×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

California Primary: Gavin Newsom, John Cox Will Advance to November in Race for Governor

Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and Republican businessman John Cox will face off in the November general election for California governor after landing the top two spots in the state’s primary.

Antonio Villaraigosa, the former mayor of Los Angeles, trailed and conceded the race.

“It looks like voters are going to have a real choice in November, between a governor who is going to stand up to Donald Trump and a foot soldier in Trump’s war on California,” Newsom told supporters after the race was called.

Cox, a former Illinois resident who ran in multiple elections there, was relatively unknown in the state before President Trump sent out several tweets in support of him in recent weeks.

“One party rule in Sacramento is bad enough, but one party elections is just un-American,” Cox told supporters, referring to the possibility, which seemed very real just a few months ago, that Republicans would get shut out of the gubernatorial race in the November election.

Villaraigosa sought to face-off against Newsom in what would have been a battle between Democrats from the northern and southern part of the state. The scenario looked likely until very recently, as polls showed Cox gaining ground.

“Different parties, different views of the world,” Villaraigosa said of the ultimate results.

The attention of Democrats nationwide wasn’t fixated on the governor’s race but a slew of House races, as the party’s hopes of winning back the majority hinge on flipping Republican seats in the state. The GOP holds seats in seven districts that Hillary Clinton won in 2016; Democrats need to win 23 seats nationwide this fall to win the House majority.

It appeared that Democrats were spared a worse case scenario: being shut out of one or several contests because of the state’s open primary. The top two vote-getters will advance to the general election, regardless of party. Because so many Democrats were vying in a series of competitive districts, they faced the possibility of splitting the vote and not making it on the fall ballot.

That was especially true in Orange County, the once hard-right conservative bastion that has been leaning farther to the left in recent cycles. Clinton won the county in 2016.

In one of the seats, Harley Rouda held a slight lead over another Democrat, Hans Keirstead, in the race to challenge incumber Republican Dana Rohrabacher, who is viewed as vulnerable. Earlier in the evening it appeared that Democrats risked being frozen out of the race to Rohrabacher and another Republican, Scott Baugh.

A complicating factor was a snafu in Los Angeles County, where more than 118,000 names were missing from the voter rolls in what was described as a printing mistake. Among those affected: Henry Winkler, the star of “Happy Days,” who tweeted that his name was left off.

One entertainment figure, Antonio Sabato Jr., overtook another Republican, Jeffrey Burum, in the later vote count and appeared to be on his way to challenging Rep. Julia Brownley (D-Calif.) in a Ventura County district this fall.

Sabato highlighted a hardline stance on illegal immigration and his support for President Trump in a district that Clinton won handily in 2016. He told Variety that he believes the improving economy will help shift the dynamics in the district.

Another notable race was that of Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who will face a fellow Democrat, Kevin de Leon, the former leader of the state Senate, this fall. She held a wide lead in the primary, but de Leon is likely to pose a generational intra-party battle for the seat.

Trump weighed in not just on the governor’s race but in congressional contests. He also sent a general tweet in support of all of the GOP candidates for Congress, and specifically named two incumbents: House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Rep. Devin Nunes, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.

Much of Hollywood’s support in the gubernatorial race went to Newsom and Villaraigosa. Although Newsom garnered more contributions from the industry, Villaraigosa also got an assist from an independent expenditure group that highlighted his support for charter schools and education reform. Reed Hastings, the CEO of Netflix, contributed $7 million to the effort, allowing them to air ads in support of Villaraigosa in expensive TV markets.

Newsom preferred to run against Cox in the general election, on the belief that he would be easier to beat. Cox, however, said that Newsom should be “careful what you wish for.” Trump seized on Cox’s showing in a Wednesday morning tweet, writing “Great night for Republicans! Congratulations to John Cox on a really big number in California. He can win. Even Fake News CNN said the Trump impact was really big, much bigger than they ever thought possible. So much for the big Blue Wave, it may be a big Red Wave. Working hard!”

Trump has been hammering the state as one of high taxes and high crime, but California has been the center of opposition to his presidency. The state attorney general, Xavier Becerra, has challenged a number of administration policies in court. Becerra had a wide lead over other challengers and will face Republican Steven Bailey in the general election.

Seven other states held primaries Tuesday, including Alabama, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico and South Dakota.

Other races of note:

Darrell Issa’s seat: Republican Diane Harkey will face Democrat Mike Levin in another district where there was a risk of a one-party general election. The seat, which includes parts of Orange County, is currently held by Republican Issa, who is retiring.

Ed Royce’s seat: Republican Young Kim led all challengers to gain a spot on the ballot, and will face Democrat Gil Cisneros. The district, held by retiring Ed Royce, also is a pickup opportunity for Democrats.

CA-25: Democrat Katie Hill edged out Bryan Caforio to take on incumbent Steve Knight, a Republican whose seat is likely to be a target in the fall. The district covers parts of the San Fernando Valley and Palmdale.

CA-10: Democrat Josh Harder held a slight lead to gain a spot on the ballot to challenge Republican Rep. Jeff Denham — but the race was much more closer than expected. Ted Howze, another Republican, trailed Harder by less than 1,000 votes.

More Politics

  • U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader

    Fox News Apologizes for Airing Graphic Implying Ruth Bader Ginsburg Has Died

    Fox News has apologized for airing a graphic that incorrectly implied Ruth Bader Ginsburg has died. The 85-year-old Supreme Court Justice, who is very much alive, is at home recovering from lung surgery. The graphic ran during the morning show “Fox & Friends,” displaying a photo of Ginsburg with the dates 1933-2019. “This was a [...]

  • Kamala Harris

    Kamala Harris Launches 2020 Presidential Bid

    WASHINGTON — Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) launched her presidential campaign on Monday with an online video and an appearance on “Good Morning America” in which she said that “this is a moment in time that I feel a sense of responsibility to stand up and fight for the best of who we are.” Harris, 54, [...]

  • Editorial use only. No merchandising.Mandatory Credit:

    Lady Gaga Slams Government Shutdown, Mike Pence at Vegas Residency

    Lady Gaga took a short break from singing “Million Reasons” at her Saturday performance of “Enigma” in Las Vegas to slam the president for the continued government shutdown. While sitting at the piano for her performance, Gaga broke into a takedown of the government shutdown and Vice President Mike Pence, who has been in the [...]

  • Donald Trump

    Trump Offers to Extend DACA Protections in Exchange for Border Wall Funding

    WASHINGTON — President Trump on Saturday made an offer to extend temporary protections to those brought to the United States by their undocumented parents, saying that it was a way to “break the logjam” that has led to a protracted government shutdown, now in its 29th day. But Democrats appear ready to reject the deal, [...]

  • Donald Trump

    BuzzFeed Stands by Its Trump Report After Mueller Objection: 'No Indication' of Inaccuracies

    UPDATED: WASHINGTON — BuzzFeed News released a statement Saturday standing by their Thursday report that Donald Trump directed his then-attorney Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about negotiations to build a Trump Tower in Moscow after the Mueller team disputed the report Friday. “As we’ve re-confirmed our reporting, we’ve seen no indication that any specific aspect [...]

  • Nancy Pelosi Donald Trump

    Government Shutdown Turns Into a Battle for Attention in D.C.

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign blasted out a new promotion on Friday: Send a brick to either House Speaker Nancy Pelosi or Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer by midnight. “Since Chuck and Nancy keep stonewalling the President, we’ll send the wall to them, brick by brick, until they agree to secure the border!” [...]

  • Women's March rallyWomen's March rally, New

    Celebrity Speakers Expected at Women's March, Despite Controversies

    Much of the media attention on this year’s Women’s March has focused on discord: Allegations that some of its leaders made anti-Semitic remarks, the association of one of its co-founders with Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan and the decision by a number of high profile politicians not to attend. While those controversies have overshadowed [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content