Republican businessman John Cox is in a dead heat for second place with former Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa in the race for California governor, with less than two weeks to go before the June 5 primary.
The new USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll shows Cox with 10 percent support from likely voters, and Villaraigosa with 11 percent support — well within the poll’s 4% margin of error.
Current Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom is in first place, with 21% of support from likely voters.
The poll is the latest to show Cox in second place, or within striking distance thereof. A March poll by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) showed Cox in second place, as did a University of California Institute of Governmental Studies (IGS) Poll in April. Another poll by the Eyewitness News/Southern California News Group in April showed Cox in third, just behind Villaraigosa.
The latest poll is significant for two reasons. First, the USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll was one of the only polls in 2016 that showed Donald Trump with a chance of winning the election. Second, under California’s “top two” or “jungle” primary system, the two highest vote-winners advance to the general election, regardless of party. That means Cox would need to pass Villaraigosa to advance.
President Donald Trump endorsed Cox last week:
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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 18, 2018
If Cox manages to defeat Villaraigosa on June 5, Republicans will have a candidate for the state’s highest office on the ballot, which could boost turnout in November. That, in turn, could help save several vulnerable Republican-held congressional seats that Democrats are targeting in their effort to win back a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives and re-install Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) as speaker.
Villaraigosa has struggled thus far to mobilize Latino voters, a voting bloc that historically turns out in low numbers.
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.