This morning Californians will see the first clash between six of California’s top candidates for governor, with front-runner Gavin Newsom expected to take the brunt of the attacks on the debate stage at USC.
Newsom leads in the polls and, by a wide margin, in fundraising, which could mean that the rest of the field will be battling for second place in the June primary.
But in California, second place is good enough. Under the state’s top-two primary system, only the two candidates who receive the most votes in June will win a ticket to the November general election.
Until now, voters have had only a few small tastes of the candidates going after one another on stage.
During a candidate forum in October between the top four Democrats in the race, former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa accused Newsom of “selling snake oil” when he promised to support a state-sponsored single-payer healthcare system, but didn’t say how he would pay for it.
Newsom brushed off the charge, saying he proved it could be done while he was mayor of San Francisco, when the city enacted the nation’s first municipal universal healthcare system.
Republican candidates John Cox and Travis Allen also went after each other during the first GOP debate, in the Inland Empire earlier this month, with the sharpest and most frequent barbs traded over their support — or lack of it — for President Trump.
The newest Republican to join the race, former Sacramento Republican Doug Ose, was not invited to the USC town hall — and he wasn’t not too happy about it
With six candidates on stage and only 90 minutes to carve out their political positions, the town hall is expected to serve as a display of each candidate’s style, demeanor and political reflexes rather than a showing off the depth of their knowledge of the issues facing California.
The candidate town hall is being hosted by USC, Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and the Empowerment Congress, a nonprofit civil organization in Los Angeles.
KABC-TV news anchor Marc Brown will moderate the debate along with KPCC-FM public radio political reporter Mary Plummer.