The first poll had him at 43% and a second one had him at 72%
— Travis Allen (@JoinTravisAllen) May 9, 2018
The media largely reported the debate as five-against-one with Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, the clear target as the race’s frontrunner.
“If you can’t trust Gavin with his best friend’s wife, how can you trust him with your state?” Allen reportedly asked, referring to an affair that came to light during Newsom’s time as Mayor of San Francisco.
Newsom responded that he had apologized for the relationship, saying, “I admitted it. I was wrong,” before suggesting that the attack was strange coming from a supporter of Donald Trump. “It’s hard, with respect, to hear from Mr. Allen, who is a devout supporter of Donald Trump, talk about the issue of sexual harassment,” Newsom said.
The event was moderated by NBC’s Chuck Todd and other issues covered included the gas tax and immigration.
Allen and John Cox were the sole Republicans on the Democrat-dominated debate. In addition to Newsom, the other Democrats included former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, State Treasurer John Chiang, and former State Superintendent of Public Instruction Delaine Eastin.
Allen said he would repeal Gov. Jerry Brown’s gas tax. “I am the original author of the repeal the gas tax,” he said, adding, “Jerry Brown lied to the California people in 2010 when he was elected on a simple promise of no new taxes without voter approval. He bribed four legislators a billion dollars of your tax money to pass the largest gas tax increase and car registration fee increase ever in California.”
Cox insisted, “I’m the chairman of the real gas tax repeal” and then went on to accuse Allen of stealing $300,000 of a contribution he received for his own campaign. Allen said, “I’d just like to respond to my angry opponent from Chicago. Let me be clear: I was the original author of the gas tax repeal.”
Allen and Cox stated they are against sanctuary cities and Newsom said he will fight and “push back against Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions and all of the others here who are trying to divide us through these games of political theater,” referring to Allen and Cox. Eastin also said she supports sanctuary cities and believes they are constitutional.
At one point, Cox said Trump’s border wall must be built because he does not “want to live next door to MS-13” gang members.
Newsom shot back saying, “This is the kind of rhetoric that has no place… we don’t tolerate diversity, we celebrate it.”
Villaraigosa noted that the “Dreamers didn’t come here on their own, They came here because their parents brought them here, and we’ve got to say that they have a right to have a legalized status.”
Todd concluded the debate by asking the candidates to weigh in on California’s top-two or “jungle” primary system which allows for the top two vote-getters to proceed to the General Election on November 7, regardless of political party.
“A Republican would be ideal in the general election,” Newsom reportedly said with a grin before looking over at Cox and Allen and adding, “Either one of these would do.”
“Be careful what you wish for, Gavin,” Cox shot back.
However, in his response to Todd, Allen said, “There’s only one Republican in the race anyway,” referring to Cox’s acknowledgment that he did not vote for Trump in 2016 and instead voted for Libertarian Gary Johnson; a decision he reportedly says he now regrets.