The biggest thorn in California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s side is now headed to Congress as part of the Golden State’s mini-red wave.
For the past six years, Assemblyman Kevin Kiley has dogged Newsom and liberal legislators about everything from the gas tax to school closures to excessive spending. He mounted a campaign against a single-payer healthcare bill that went down in flames, giving the GOP a rare victory in the state.
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The maverick conservative was arguably the lone voice on social media blasting the supermajority Democratic machine for all the ills befalling California. Now Kiley says he is ready to do the same to the Biden administration and any congressional member who steps in line with outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).
“This has been a terrible last two years for our country, everything has moved in the wrong direction in public safety, immigration, and the economy,” Kiley, 37, told the Washington Examiner. “We need to get the country on the right track.”
He has been on a continuous crusade this year to bring down the cost of gas, introducing several bills to delete the gas tax as other blue states have done. All of his legislation has died in committee.
“Newsom says oil companies are ‘ripping you off.’ It’s his government that is ripping us off. Californians pay the highest gas taxes and drive on the worst roads,” Kiley tweeted in September.
Kiley has a blunt yet facetious way of speaking to the electorate that let him cruise to victory in two assembly elections and then pull past congressional rival Kermit Jones, a Democrat, with a 5-point margin.
His Twitter feed is filled with observations about daily life that he finds unbearable: a state law muzzling doctors who speak out about COVID-19, low test scores for schoolchildren, or why the electrical grid is causing blackouts.
He plans to use this direct approach in working with other GOP members who have similar approaches, such as Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH). Kiley also said he will vote for Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) for House speaker.
“I’m talking to Jim Jordan and a lot of other members of our conference who are thinking the same way about getting results,” Kiley said. “The economy and immigration are top priorities right now.”
Other items on his to-do list include ferreting out corruption at the Department of Justice, “what they are doing with 87,000 IRS agents,” and “mistakes on healthcare with COVID.”
“There has been no oversight on Pelosi’s watch, and that is about to change,” Kiley said.
When asked what committee assignments he will request, Kiley demurred, saying he’s evaluating the process.
But it’s a safe bet he will use his background as an attorney in some capacity as he did as a state legislator, drilling into legislation and then arguing his point to voters.
Since he was elected in 2016, Kiley fought against taxation, spending, and downgrading state laws to clear out the prisons. But his activism ramped up a few notches when Newsom took office two years later.
In 2021, Kiley became one of the leading drivers of the Newsom recall movement and even wrote a book titled Recall Newsom: The Case Against America’s Most Corrupt Governor.
Kiley jumped into the recall race, finishing sixth in a crowded pool of candidates who wanted to take the governor’s job if he was voted out. Newsom prevailed with 62% of the vote.
“Why, in California, when we sacrifice the most, do we get the least in return?” Kiley said at the time. “We have the worst roads, poverty, homeless, and the most secure lockdowns during COVID. The answer is political corruption.”
He then accused Newsom of selling his office to the highest bidder in a June 27, 2021, tweet. Kiley also had a few words for Sen. Alex Padilla (D-CA).
“Newsom’s appointed senator Alex Padilla says the Recall ‘threatens our values.’ He’s right. It’s a vital threat to a decadent political class that values nothing but its own power,” Kiley tweeted.
Leaving California politics for a bigger stage now begs the question for the state’s outnumbered conservative base: Who is going to fill the hole?
Kiley ticked off the names of several legislators he said are up for the fight, along with several newly elected members.
“I know that there is going to be a constitutional fight at the state Capitol, and I hope to assist those efforts as much as possible,” he said. “I want to continue to focus attention on state government in California.”