Gov. Gavin Newsom presents the breakdown for the $267.8 billion budget revise in a program dubbed ‘California Roars Back’ at the Secretary of State building auditorium in Sacramento on May 14, 2021. The budget focuses large allotments toward education, housing and climate resiliency measures. Photo by Anne Wernikoff, CalMatters

( CALMATTERS) – And then there were 46.

The number of Californians running to replace Gov. Gavin Newsom in the Sept. 14 election swelled by four on Wednesday, when a judge ruled that a state law requiring gubernatorial candidates to release tax returns doesn’t apply to recall elections, CalMatters’ Laurel Rosenhall reports. That catapulted onto the ballot conservative talk show host Larry Elder, who had been left off for providing what Secretary of State Shirley Weber deemed incomplete tax returns. Three other people rejected only because of the tax document requirement were also added to the final candidate list Weber certified late Wednesday.

Kevin Faulconer, however, wasn’t so lucky: He lost his bid to be described as “retired San Diego Mayor” on the recall ballot, and will instead be referred to as “businessman/educator.” Real estate YouTuber Kevin Paffrath was also blocked from including his nickname “Meet Kevin.”

Although those details may seem trivial, they can be decisive. Career descriptions, party preference, name recognition and the order of names on the ballot have all been shown to influence electoral outcomes — which is likely why Newsom sued Weber to be listed as a Democrat on the recall ballot after his lawyers made a filing error. A judge ruled against Newsom last week, meaning his party preference will not be included.

While Newsom’s challengers spent Wednesday in court battling over ballot designations, the governor was making his own appeal to the court of public opinion. In a likely attempt to soothe voters spooked by a 31% spike in homicides, potentially shorter prison sentences for 76,000 inmates, and viral videos of store robberies, Newsom signed into law a bill to continue classifying organized retail theft as a crime and keep task forces in place. He also appeared to chastise progressive district attorneys, such as George Gascón in Los Angeles and Chesa Boudin in San Francisco, by encouraging prosecutors to “take seriously those re-offenses” and “be a little bit more proactive on enforcement and prosecution of those crimes.”

The press conference came a day after high-profile victim advocates — including Marc Klaas, whose daughter Polly was murdered in 1996 — gathered in Sacramento to denounce Newsom’s criminal justice policies.

“Californians deserve a governor who cares about their safety and the economic impacts of increasing crime all the time — not just when facing the threat of recall.”

Joanna Rodriguez, spokesperson for Recall Gavin Newsom Action