A new poll has confirmed that Republican businessman John Cox is in second place in the race for California governor, meaning that he has a good chance of qualifying for the general election ballot in November.
The new Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) poll shows that Cox leads former Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa by 4%, outside the 3.1% margin of error: “Democrat Gavin Newsom (25%) leads among likely voters, followed by Republican John Cox (19%), Democrat Antonio Villaraigosa (15%), Republican Travis Allen (11%), and Democrats John Chiang (9%) and Delaine Eastin (6%). Fifteen percent of likely voters are still undecided.”
While a race for second place might seem futile, in California it is all-important. Under the state’s “jungle” primary system, the top two finishers in the June 5 primary will advance to the general election, regardless of party. Political observers originally predicted an all-Democrat final between Newsom and Villaraigosa.
That, in turn, would likely have depressed Republican turnout, helping Democratic congressional candidates in swing districts statewide.
But the prospect of a Republican on the November ballot for governor means that the GOP may have higher turnout than originally expected, which could in turn allow them to protect many of the seats that Democrats are targeting.
California, which has several Republican-held districts that voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016, is key to Democrats’ efforts to retake the U.S. House and to re-install House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) as its Speaker.
Politico notes that “Republican House candidates aren’t doomed if Cox fails to make the ballot.” That is partly because the GOP has managed to put forward a popular ballot initiative to repeal the state’s new 12-cent-per-gallon gas tax, and also because of new grass roots enthusiasm behind a movement to defy California’s “sanctuary state” laws.
But the task of defending the U.S. House will become easier with Cox on the November ballot. That is why President Donald Trump endorsed Cox last week — even though Cox did not vote for him in the 2016 election.
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.