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(Aric Crabb / Bay Area News Group)

California's six leading candidates for governor discussed topics ranging from immigration to artificial intelligence over the course of a 90-minute debate Tuesday night. Some produced thoughtful answers about the state’s future, others generated responses that came across as general bromides about making things better.

And interspersed were a few key moments that offered a glimpse into where this race stands, now four weeks from election day.

Personalities, not policies, seemed to divide (most of) the candidates. Going into the debate, a key question was whether voters would see variety in the strains of Democratic or Republican politics to offer voters. That’s an especially important point in the era of the top-two primary, where voters can choose a candidate regardless of party.

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  • Governor's race

The debate among the candidates vying to be California’s next governor lasted 90 minutes. With rapid-fire questions and six candidates on stage, there was little time for anyone to waste.

Debate moderator Chuck Todd, who closed the forum by noting things had remained civil and on topic, kept the clock moving and each candidate had an opportunity to field multiple questions. Even the longshots. 

Consider that Assemblyman Travis Allen, who is in the back of the pack when it comes to polling and fundraising, actually had the most air time. 

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Gubernatorial candidate John Cox
Gubernatorial candidate John Cox (Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times)

At Tuesday night’s gubernatorial debate, GOP businessman John Cox said he led the recall effort against former San Diego Mayor Bob Filner, who resigned in 2013 under a torrent of sexual harassment allegations.

Cox was a donor to the effort to oust Filner, but he was not one of the primary driving forces behind Filner’s exit. A former San Diego city councilwoman as well as two local attorneys first called on Filner to resign and were the most prominent opponents of Filner as the controversy raged.

John Myers and Melanie Mason will be with me in this live chat over here as we watch the debate and provide real-time commentary and analysis.

And for more coverage like that, make sure to sign up for our free Essential Politics newsletter.

  • Governor's race
  • 2018 election
  • California Republicans
  • California Democrats
Top L-R: Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, Antonio Villaraigosa, Treasurer John Chiang. Bottom L-R: Delaine Eastin, Assemblyman Travis Allen, John Cox.
Top L-R: Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, Antonio Villaraigosa, Treasurer John Chiang. Bottom L-R: Delaine Eastin, Assemblyman Travis Allen, John Cox.

With California’s 2018 race for governor barreling toward the June 5 primary, Tuesday night’s televised debate in San Jose is primed to be the most contentious and consequential face-off of the campaign. (Watch live here.)

Here’s what to watch for:

The fight for second place

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Chuck Todd appears on ‘Meet the Press’ in Washington, D.C., Sunday, May 6, 2018.
Chuck Todd appears on ‘Meet the Press’ in Washington, D.C., Sunday, May 6, 2018. (William B. Plowman/NBC NewsWire)

If NBC’s Chuck Todd does it right, the headlines following the gubernatorial debate Tuesday night won’t be about his job as the moderator, but instead about how the candidates illustrated their differences for voters.

Not such an easy task when six people who want to be California’s next governor take the stage — especially since they are from two different parties.

But such is life thanks to California’s top-two primary, and a jump ball for who might take the second spot on June 5.

George Deukmejian, a perennially popular two-term Republican governor of California who built his career on fighting crime, hardening the state's criminal justice stance and shoring up its leaky finances, died on Tuesday. He was 89 years old.

Democratic gubernatorial candidates, from left, John Chiang, Delaine Eastin, Antonio Villaraigosa and Gavin Newsom.
Democratic gubernatorial candidates, from left, John Chiang, Delaine Eastin, Antonio Villaraigosa and Gavin Newsom. (Hayne Palmour IV)

Five men and one woman running to be the next governor of California take the stage Tuesday night to make their case just as voters start to cast ballots by mail.

The Times will have full coverage in this space, and you’ll be able to watch the debate with us here

The debate, moderated by NBC’s Chuck Todd and co-hosted by the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, begins at 6:30 p.m. It is scheduled to last 90 minutes.

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  • California Legislature
Shant Damirdjian, left, assists customers at Cookies Los Angeles, which sells recreational marijuana under Proposition 64.
Shant Damirdjian, left, assists customers at Cookies Los Angeles, which sells recreational marijuana under Proposition 64. (Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

Money collected through California’s marijuana taxes may fall short of the $175 million budgeted for the first six months of this year. The less-than-expected haul could force the Legislature to shelve a bill that would reduce the excise tax on pot from 15% to 11%, state officials warned Tuesday.

For the first three months of the year, the state collected $34 million in state excise taxes on cannabis. If the trend continues, revenue will be less than half of what was anticipated for the first six months, according to the Legislative Analyst’s Office.

“We’re not seeing the numbers” expected, said Assemblyman Evan Low (D-Campbell), chairman of the Assembly Business and Professions Committee. Tax revenue, he added is “woefully below the projections.”

  • U.S. Senate race