Ron Jones (California)
In 2022, Republican Ron Jones launched a campaign to become the next governor of California. Jones, a political newcomer, faced extremely long odds in the race from the start. After a brief and quiet primary campaign, Jones was handily defeated in the June Republican primary. While his candidacy gained little traction, it did illustrate some of the challenges in running statewide as a Republican in deep-blue California.
Republican Primary Campaign
Timeline and Key Events
Jones officially announced his gubernatorial campaign in October 2021, joining a crowded field of Republican candidates. From the beginning, he struggled with low name recognition outside of Republican activist circles. His campaign events throughout the primary race drew small crowds, and he failed to garner media attention.
Jones concentrated his early campaign efforts on recruiting volunteers and raising funds. He brought in only about $6,000 in contributions for the entire campaign cycle. In May 2022, Jones contributed over $9,000 of his own money in loans to his campaign as the June 7 primary approached.
Funding and Spending
With his very limited fundraising, Jones’ campaign was unable to afford significant advertising or field operations. Most of his meager budget was spent on basic campaign necessities like legal fees, travel, and website hosting.
His cash-strapped campaign was dwarfed by rivals like Brian Dahle, who raised over $3 million for his primary run. The funding disadvantage left Jones with little ability to reach voters across California’s vast and expensive media markets.
Messaging and Policy Positions
Throughout his brief primary bid, Jones emphasized traditional conservative platforms like lower taxes, Second Amendment rights, and opposition to government overreach. However, he failed to articulate an overarching vision or set himself apart from the primary field on policy.
Jones positioned himself as a political outsider running against the “Sacramento machine.” But he was unable to garner major endorsements or institutional Republican support. His outsider message simply did not break through.
Polling and Election Performance
Jones polled at 1% or less throughout the primary race. In the June 7 open primary, Jones ended up winning just 0.5% of the vote, finishing 13th in the field of 25 candidates. Fellow Republican Brian Dahle took first place with 17% of the vote and advanced to the November general election along with Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom.
Factors in Jones’ Primary Defeat
Low Name Recognition
While Jones touted his diverse professional background, he had no previous elected experience and little public profile. Running for governor of the nation’s most populous state as a first-time candidate with no record in office proved extraordinarily difficult. Jones failed to convince voters he was prepared for the job.
Jones’ lack of campaign funds undermined efforts to boost his name ID and share his platform. In California’s incredibly expensive media markets, sufficient funding is critical but hard to achieve for lesser-known candidates. He could not afford substantive advertising or field campaigns.
Crowded Primary Field
The 2022 GOP field was overflowing with over two dozen candidates. Republican voters had many options, and Jones got overshadowed by rivals with more money, endorsements, and name recognition. Breaking through was an uphill climb.
Lack of Institutional Support
Jones did not receive endorsements from Republican elected officials or the state party organization. This signaled that the GOP establishment did not view him as a viable option. The lack of validation from Republican leaders was a major handicap for the novice candidate.
Campaign Issues and Controversies
Comments on Hot Button Issues
Jones made several controversial comments related to abortion, gun rights, and other hot button topics during the primary race. For example, he took absolutist stances like calling for a total abortion ban without exceptions. While these views appealed to some conservatives, they alienated moderates and highlighted Jones’ fringe positions.
Jones had not been vetted previously as a candidate, so his background came under intense scrutiny. Critics pointed to past tax liens and allegations of embellishing his resume as evidence Jones was unqualified. The novice candidate struggled to respond effectively as his record faced examination.
Media Coverage and Profiles
In the limited press coverage of his bid, stories focused on Jones’ lack of political experience and longshot chances. Profiles portrayed him as an underprepared candidate unlikely to compete seriously. The media narrative that Jones couldn’t win became self-fulfilling.
Impact and Aftermath
Effects on California Republicans
Jones’ candidacy did not significantly affect the landscape for Republicans in California. The state party remains divided on how to approach statewide campaigns given the Democratic registration advantage. Some saw Jones as evidence that unknown political newcomers cannot break through. But his poor showing did not resolve the debate over the GOP’s direction in California.
Jones’ Future Plans
After his resounding primary defeat, Jones did not rule out potential future runs for public office. However, he would need to substantially raise his profile and gain experience to mount a viable campaign. Jones’ failed gubernatorial bid serves as a cautionary tale showing the immense difficulties faced by unknown first-time candidates in California’s political environment.
The key takeaway from Jones’ lopsided loss is the enormous challenge of running statewide as a rookie candidate with minimal funding or party support. While he held deeply conservative views, Jones was unable to articulate an appealing vision or generate momentum with so many disadvantages. His candidacy shows that it takes more than just passion for politics to build a competitive campaign.
Ron Jones entered the 2022 California governor’s race as a major underdog and longshot candidate. He was handily defeated in the Republican primary after failing to gain traction with voters, media, and donors. While Jones’ red meat conservative rhetoric excited some activists, he could not overcome his lack of experience, funding, and endorsements. Jones’ landslide loss serves as a cautionary example of the immense difficulties faced by unknown first-time candidates mounting statewide campaigns in California. Despite falling far short this time, Jones believes he gained valuable experience that could help in potential future political runs.
Q: How much of the vote did Ron Jones get in the primary?
A: Jones received just 0.5% of the vote, finishing 13th out of 25 candidates.
Q: How much money did Ron Jones raise for his campaign?
A: Jones raised only about $6,000 in total campaign contributions. He also loaned his campaign over $9,000 of his own money.
Q: What was Ron Jones’ background before running for governor?
A: Jones had no prior elected experience. His background was in law enforcement, the U.S. Army, and private sector security consulting.
Q: What was Ron Jones’ messaging during the primary campaign?
A: He ran as a political outsider and emphasized traditional conservative policies like gun rights, low taxes, and limiting government. But he failed to stand out from the crowded Republican field.
Q: Why did Ron Jones perform so poorly in the primary?
A: As a first-time candidate, he struggled with very low name recognition and a severe lack of campaign funding. He also did not get support from the GOP establishment.
Q: Did Ron Jones have any impact on California politics?
A: No, his poor showing did not significantly affect California Republicans’ direction or approach to statewide campaigns.
Q: What were some controversies from Ron Jones’ campaign?
A: He made some controversial statements on abortion and other hot button topics. He also faced scrutiny over past tax issues and resume questions.
Q: What lessons were learned from Ron Jones’ loss?
A: His defeat showed the immense challenges faced by unknown first-time candidates with little money or institutional support in California. It takes more than just passion to run a viable statewide campaign.