How a GameStonk YouTuber is shaking up the California recall

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How a GameStonk YouTuber is shaking up the California recall

Walking up to a podium in San Francisco this summer, Kevin Paffrath grabs the microphone. “Hodl that AMC,” he says with a smile, gazing out at the few dozen or so people, predominantly young men, attending the rally, a reference to the “meme stock” moment from earlier this year.

Paffrath, better known as MeetKevin on YouTube, is running to unseat Gov. Gavin Newsom in California’s recall election this month. It’s rare that a gubernatorial candidate would lead off a speech with such a painfully online reference, but that’s part of Paffrath’s appeal. He’s branded himself as the candidate for the r/wallstreetbets crowd — and so far, it’s working. As of publication, he’s the top polling Democrat at 8 percent.

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Since 2017, Paffrath has made YouTube videos full-time from his home in Ventura, streaming his takes on the financial and cryptocurrency markets to an audience of over 1 million subscribers. He’s also the only Democrat spending big to win the election, and it’s made him the most viable candidate outside of Republicans like Larry Elder, a popular conservative talk radio host.

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