California Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom easily won the state’s primary for governor on Tuesday and will face a Republican businessman endorsed by President Donald Trump in the November general election.
The charismatic Newsom is seen as a possible contender for the 2020 Democratic Party presidential nomination.
In his victory speech Newsom immediately made the California governor’s race about the president. “Voters are going to have a real choice this November between a governor who is going to stand up to Donald Trump and a foot soldier in Trump’s war on California,” he said. “We don’t obstruct justice – we demand justice.”
The GOP candidate is John Cox who won second place after a poor showing by the Democratic former mayor of Los Angeles, Antonio Villaraigosa. This was a victory for the Republican Party because if Cox had finished third they would have been shut out on the November ballot.
California has what is called a “jungle primary” system where the two candidates with the most votes from either party in Tuesday’s primaries advance to the general election in the fall.
In Southern California there are several congressional districts held by Republicans that Democrats hope to win in November, but they have been afraid their party would be “locked out” by two Republicans. It appears that this concern has been avoided, although the races are very close and all votes have not been counted. It could take several days for final results to be certified.
In the governor’s race there were 27 names on the ballot. Newsom received 33%, Cox 26% and Villaraigosa 14%. In total, the Democratic candidates received a combined 60% of the vote, while the Republican candidates received a combined 40% of the vote. So even though Cox finished second it was still a good night for Democrats.
Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein, won by a landslide with 44% of the vote while second place went to progressive Democratic challenger Kevin DeLeon with 11%.
In New Jersey, Democratic Senator Bob Menendez won in a weak showing after having been brought to trial on corruption charges. He was not convicted of those charges but he has been weakened politically and in November will face Republican Bob Hugin, the former CEO of a pharmaceutical company.
Alabama, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana,New Mexico and South Dakota also held primaries on Tuesday.