DemDaily: California Dreaming

December 4, 2017

Coming off critical victories in the two 2017 Gubernatorial races in Virginia and New Jersey, Democrats must now turn to the 2018 cycle - and the daunting 36 Governors' races up next year.

The GOP currently holds 34 gubernatorial seats to the Democrats's 15, and one independent.

Political icon and California Democratic Governor Jerry Brown, elected the state's 39th Governor in 2011, is term-limited, leaving open the country's most powerful gubernatorial seat which oversees the world's sixth-largest economy.

Brown, who has a 53+% approval rating, was previously elected as the state's 34th Governor from 1975 to 1983, making him California's longest serving Governor.

California voted Democrat in all five presidential elections between 2000 and 2016 and, with a 19-point voter registration edge over Republicans, the seat is very likely to stay in the hands of Democrats, leaving a scramble among those who have longed dreamed of succeeding the popular incumbent.

Villaraigosa gaining ground

In California's open primary, which will be held on June 5, 2018, the top two vote-getters, regardless of party, advance to the November 6th general election.  This also sets up the potential for a showdown between two top Democrats.  

Although candidates have until next March to file, there are already at least 25 contenders expected to run and more undecided candidates, like billionaire activist Tom Steyer, who are still on the fence but could shake up the race.

Of the current field, to follow are the most formidable contenders.


Gavin Newsom: 49, California Lieutenant Governor (since 2011), former Mayor of San Francisco (2004-2011)
Antonio Villaraigosa: 64, former two-term Mayor of Los Angeles (2005-2013) and Speaker of the California Assembly (1998-2000)
John Chiang: 55, California State Treasurer (elected 2014), following two terms as State Controller
Delaine Eastin: 70, former California Superintendent of Public Instruction and California (1995-2003) and State Assemblywoman (1986-1994)


John Cox: 62, Attorney, businessman, former host of Chicago radio show "The Conservative Progressive," and a former Illinois Congressional Candidate.
Travis Allen: 44, Three-term California State Assemblyman (Huntington Beach), financial and wealth management practice

Chiang, Villaraigosa, Eastin, Newsom at the SF City Club Summit Oct 24th

Candidate Filing Deadline: March 9, 2018
Primary Election: June 5th, 2018

Although current Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom started as the frontrunner, his lead over former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa appears to be narrowing.

The Public Policy Institute of California (Nov 10-19th, ±3.4% margin of error) released a poll this week showing that Newsom leads the field with 23% of the vote to Villaraigosa's 18%.

That is a 5% cut in Newsom's 10-point lead in a USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll (Oct 27-Nov. 6, ±4% margin of error) taken five weeks ago, and a 16-point advantage Newson held in a UC Berkeley poll taken in September.

However it plays out, this is one race worth watching. DemList will keep you informed!

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Kimberly Scott

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Sources: SFGate, Public Policy Institute of California, Sacramento Bee, Ballotpedia, wikipedia, Los Angeles Times

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