Gavin Newsom leads polls in California governor race

Graphic by Emma Reith

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gavin Newsom has an 11 percent lead over Republican candidate John Cox. Newsom’s lead in the California gubernatorial race adds to predictions that the 2018 midterm elections could bring about a “blue wave” for the country.

“The midterms are really just a referendum on the president these days,” said Fred Smoller, a political science professor at Chapman. “I don’t think the election will be as successful as the Democrats want or as bad as the Republicans fear.”

A recent survey by the Public Policy Institute of California shows that Newsom’s lead has narrowed as Nov. 6 approaches. If elected, Cox would be the first Republican to be elected governor in California since

Arnold Schwarzenegger was re-elected in 2006.

In the open primary election in June, 33.7 percent of the vote went to Newsom and 25.4 percent went to Cox. The candidate with the third highest amount of votes was former Los Angeles mayor and Democrat Antonio Villaraigosa at 13.3 percent.

Newsom is the current lieutenant gov. of California. He was mayor of San Francisco for seven years before being elected in 2010.

Smoller said that “socially tolerant” people will likely vote for Newsom.

“Gavin is very, very progressive. He was the mayor of San Francisco, on gay issues and environmental issues,” Smoller said. “He basically toes the Democrat’s line on the government being a good force of society. If you genuinely think that the government is a positive force in society, you would vote for someone like Gavin Newsom.”

In 2004, 36 days into his first term as mayor of San Francisco, Newsom authorized the city and county to issue same-sex marriage licenses.

Newsom’s platform focus is on advancing LGBTQIA+ equality and marriage rights, defending California’s sanctuary state status, universal healthcare, universal preschool education, closing the wage gap, reproductive rights, criminal justice reform and gun safety.

On homelessness, Newsom said he would appoint a cabinet-level homelessness official in California who would be responsible for ensuring the state’s housing, criminal justice, healthcare and welfare departments work together on the issue. Conversely, Cox believes the state should rely more heavily on nonprofits and other private providers for assistance.

Some may vote for Cox “to prevent Newsom from winning,” Smoller said.

“Cox is a traditional Republican: lower taxes, lower regulations, he’s a climate change denier,” Smoller said.

Cox, a former Democrat and San Diego-area businessman, opposes expansion of offshore oil drilling, believes that charter schools are part of the solution to issues in the public education system, wants to rapidly increase the supply of affordable housing and opposes the High Speed Railway Project, according to his website.

Cox is also anti-abortion and said in 2006 at a Conservative Political Action Conference that cases of rape and incest should not be exceptions to a ban on abortion, in contrast to Newsom, who is backed by Planned Parenthood and wants to increase funding and access to reproductive care.

“I think anybody who has a rape and incest exception to abortion really hasn’t thought it through. Killing the baby is not going to absolve the crime of rape,” Cox said at the conference.

He also said he was “100 percent and proudly pro-life and I offer no apologies for it.”

During his primary campaign, Newsom spoke about his efforts to raise money for Planned Parenthood to increase access to abortion and other healthcare services for women. During a candidate forum in January, Newsom said that California’s next governor should be a leader in defending abortion rights.

“There’s a deliberate effort to roll back reproductive rights in the country, to attack women, to demean women,” he said. “You need leaders to step into that debate. You need to call it out. You need to explain it. You need to expose it.”

Cox disagrees with Newsom’s stance on sanctuary state policies and favors “smart immigration,” which prioritizes “those with skills needed to fill specific worker shortages,” rather than competing with Americans for jobs. He also supports securing the border “to stem the flow of illegal guns and human trafficking that’s plaguing our inner cities,” according to his website.

Cox was endorsed by President Donald Trump in a tweet in May.

“California finally deserves a great Governor, one who understands borders, crime and lowering taxes.

John Cox is the man – he’ll be the best Governor you’ve ever had. I fully endorse John Cox for Governor and look forward to working with him to Make California Great Again!” Trump tweeted.