Pete Peterson (Secretary of State)
Ron Gold (Attorney General)
Marshall Tuck (Democrat for Supt. of Public Instruction)
One other candidate has never held public office: 81-year-old Republican treasurer candidate Ron Conlon, who ran for that office in 2002 and lost.
To be sure, it's not the first time complete newcomers have run for statewide office. In fact, the last three Republican nominees for governor started out at the top:
Businessman Bill Simon narrowly lost to Gray Davis in 2002.
Arnold Schwarzenegger's first run for office was the 2003 recall election -- he was then nominated by the GOP in 2006.
Meg Whitman finished first in the 2010 GOP primary, earning the right to face Jerry Brown.
And there have been first-time candidates on the Democratic side as well, including:
Kathleen Connell, who ran and won the state controller's job in 1994, and Steve Westly, who narrowly snagged the controller's race in 2002, edging out state Sen. Tom McClintock by 0.2% of the vote.
But at no time in the past 20 years have there been as many first-time candidates left standing in a November gubernatorial election as there are this year.
Hoover Institution politics research fellow Bill Whalen says there are several reasons so many novice Republicans run.
"They just don't have enough credible people to run for statewide office," says Whalen. "And they won't be able to solve that problem for a while. They're focused now on electing people to the state Assembly and Senate who might be able to wage a credible statewide campaign down the road."
Whalen, who's worked for several Republican governors in the past, notes that when Pete Wilson ran for governor in 1990, he'd held public office for 24 years (state Assembly, San Diego mayor, U.S. Senate). Likewise George Deukmejian before him.
Before 1994 and the disastrous Proposition 187 began eating away at Republicans' strength in California, the party had a deep bench filled with credible state legislators who could make a serious statewide run. Today, even a powerful Republican like Bakersfield Rep. Kevin McCarthy is not about to leave Congress for a statewide run in California.
"Republicans' share of the electorate is 28 percent and shrinking," says Whalen. In other words, the math simply doesn't favor candidates with an "R" next to their name.
Whalen notes a different phenomenon is happening on the Democrats' side. Two Democrats are squaring off in the state schools superintendent race. Polls show it's a dead heat between incumbent Tom Torlakson and newcomer Marshall Tuck.
"First-time candidates like Tuck and (South Bay congressional candidate) Ro Khanna are venturing into the lion's den and pulling up a chair and running against establishment Democrats," Whalen says. "It's a gutsy thing to do. The question is: Will we see more of the same in the future?"
Former hedge fund manager Tom Steyer is said to be thinking about a statewide run, either for governor or U.S. senator.
First-time candidates who start at the top -- or near the top -- in California politics don't have a great record of winning. But enough of them have won to give hope to others who challenge the political establishment