The California Republican Party will not be backing one single candidate in the race for governor this year, after neither of the two frontrunners managed to win 60% of the delegates’ votes at the party convention in San Diego over the weekend.
Businessman John Cox — who is spending heavily on conservative talk radio and cable news — came close to winning, with 55.3% of the vote, while Assemblyman Travis Allen (R-Huntington Beach) earned 40.5%.
Local ABC News affiliate 10 News notes that Cox supporters tried to amend the rules of the convention to make endorsement easier, but the party rejected that attempt.
Republicans now worry that the party will be split heading into the June 5 “jungle primary.” According to the rules of California’s unique system, the top two finishers, regardless of party, proceed to the general election. That places Republicans at a disadvantage in many cases, because there are many more registered Democrats than Republicans in the state, and the party is not guaranteed a nominee for the general election in November.
When Democrats split the vote — as they are doing this year, in a race between Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and former Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, among others — that leaves Republicans an opening to exploit. Yet now both parties will be splitting the vote.
It may not matter, for two reasons. One is that both Cox and Allen might pass Villaraigosa, who has struggled to gain traction. (A recent poll showed them both ahead of him, though behind Newsom.)
Another is that Cox may spend enough money to propel him past both Allen and Villaraigosa on his own. There are barely four weeks left in the primary race — but California primaries are typically decided in the last few weeks, with massive spending all around.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named to Forward’s 50 “most influential” Jews in 2017. He is the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.