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Poll: RSF attorney tops GOP governor hopefuls

STATE — Rancho Santa Fe attorney and venture capitalist John Cox leads among Republican candidates for governor though his percentage of support is mired in the single digits, according to poll findings released last week.

Cox was backed by 9 percent of likely voters polled by the Public Policy Institute of California, and Huntington Beach Assemblyman Travis Allen by 6 percent. More than half of those polled said they had never heard of Cox or Allen, underscoring the difficulties they face in dark-blue California.

John Cox

Cox, who has run for U.S. Senate and Congress in his native Illinois, describes himself as a moderate Republican in the mold of the late U.S. Rep. Jack Kemp. In 2014, he contributed $1 million to fund a ballot initiative campaign that would require legislators to wear the logos of their top corporate donors while speaking on behalf of a measure in the state assembly.

Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, both Democrats, top the field in California’s race for governor, and Sen. Dianne Feinstein has a dominant lead in her bid for reelection, according to other findings in the poll announced Dec. 1.

But a third of likely voters don’t know who they will vote for in either race, meaning there’s plenty of room for jockeying among the candidates as the June primary election approaches, the Los Angeles Times reported.

PPIC President Mark Baldassare said he was surprised about the number of undecided voters given that these races are for California’s two most coveted political posts.

“It seems high to me, especially in the Senate race when you have an incumbent running,” Baldassare said, The Times reported.

He said that Californians appear to be more politically engaged than in years past but that most of their attention is focused on the daily machinations in Washington, D.C.

In the 2018 race for governor, Newsom is backed by 23 percent of likely voters, with fellow Democrat Villaraigosa trailing close behind with 18 percent support, according to the survey. The rest of the major candidates hovered in the single digits.

Among the other Democrats, state Treasurer John Chiang was favored by 9 percent of likely voters, and former state schools chief Delaine Eastin by 3 percent, The Times reported.

The PPIC survey shows a slightly tighter race between Newsom and Villaraigosa than the margin in a USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll released in early November, according to The Times..

In the Senate race, Feinstein, a Democrat, leads by more than a 2-to-1 margin over her biggest rival in her bid for a fifth full term in the U.S. Senate.

According to the poll, 45 percent of likely voters support Feinstein compared with 21 percent who back her fellow Democrat, state Senate leader Kevin de Leon of Los Angeles, The Times reported.