Only one candidate in the Recall Gavin circus has spent the money to advertise on TV, but you’d hardly call him a “credible” challenger.

While the clown car of candidates in the unlikely-to-succeed effort to recall Gavin Newsom promised us idiotic publicity stunt campaigns from the likes of porn star Mary Carey and crypotocurrency bro Chamath Palihapitiya, an actual look at state recall filings shows that neither of those two has actually filed papers to run. (Palihapitiya quickly backtracked and said he’s not running) Of the 20 candidates who have filed, only four have filings indicating they’ve raised any money: Kardashian-adjacent reality TV joke Caitlyn Jenner, former GOP Congressman Doug Ose, ex-San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer, and the Republican businessman who pulled the bear shit at a rally this week, John Cox.    

Cox is the only one of this lot who’s spent any money on TV advertising so far, with the incredibly sorry ad seen below, in what KGO describes as a “$5 million ad buy.” Jenner also has an ad, but it’s just an online video with no affiliated air time purchases. But we now have polling on the recall candidates, and Cox has… sort of broken out from the pack?

Cox leads the field with his paltry 9% support, according to a SurveyUSA News published in Newsweek, followed by Jenner (5%), and former Trump interim Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell (5%), despite that Grenell, too, has not filed papers actually to run.

And just look at the crowds Cox’s rallies are drawing! KQED reports that Cox is unhappy that, in his words, “The coverage yesterday was all about the bear.”

That’s a curious concern, considering that he made the 1,000-pound bear the centerpiece of his Tuesday rally, the bear is the focal point of his TV ad blitz, and the same spirit animal is plastered all over his campaign bus. Cox has clearly decided to make his campaign theme “Beauty and the Beast,” with his Twitter handle @BeastJohnCox, and the ad’s referring to Gavin Newsom as a “pretty boy” and “beauty.” Cox seems preoccupied with mentioning Newsom’s attractiveness. Draw your own conclusions.

You’d be forgiven for not knowing that this is the same John Cox who faced off against Newsom in the November 2018 governor race, considering how Newsom cleaned Cox’s clock and got nearly twice as many votes. In addition to running for California governor, Cox has previously run (in Illinois) for senator, the U.S. House of Representatives, and Cook County recorder, losing every time.

But if voters approve the recall of Gavin Newsom, then theoretically, Cox could get the governor’s job with only 9% of the vote. If a majority votes to recall Newsom, that measly 9% could indeed top a fractured field of nobodies. The recall passing is highly unlikely, given Newsom’s recent success with vaccinations and reopenings. What’s more likely is the deep-pocketed Cox running for governor again in 2022, which is what this whole stunt is probably about.  

Related: Recall Gavin Campaign Hastily Deletes ‘Chinese’ Virus Rhetoric From Website [SFist]

Image: SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA - MAY 04: A 1,000 pound bear sits behind California republican gubernatorial candidate John Cox as he speaks during a campaign rally at Miller Regional Park on May 04, 2021 in Sacramento, California. Republican candidate for California governor John Cox kicked off his campaign with a press event that featured a live 1,000 pound bear. He will continue his bus tour across California over the next few days. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)