In the famously liberal state of California, Republican candidates have a tough time. We must remember that the last Republican governor of the nation’s most populated state, lovingly dubbed the “Governator,” was in office only 7 years ago. This means that it is not completely impossible for a conservative candidate to win the California gubernatorial race, but it is unlikely.
California has two choices this election cycle for their Republican candidate: Assemblyman Travis Allen (R-Huntington Beach) and noted businessman and attorney John Cox of San Diego. Most outsiders see Cox with the advantage in this race because of his greater financial resources, but he is still a long-shot compared to the Democratic frontrunners of Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom and ex-Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.
According to Cox’s campaign website, he will focus his policy agenda on rolling back taxes that he believes are hurting the state’s business environment and unfairly burdening the middle-class, as well as combatting the poverty in the state which consistently ranks the highest in all of the union. He also hangs his hat on the fact that he is not a career politician, rather a businessman much like our current president. Even though he isn’t a career politician he has been backed by some of the Republican political establishment including Representative Mimi Walters and ex-Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. One issue many Republican voters in the state question Mr. Cox on is the fact he failed to support President Trump during his campaign; instead he backed the libertarian third-party candidate Gary Johnson.
Assemblyman Allen is running on the idea that Californian citizens must “Take Back California.” Assemblyman Allen, much like Mr. Cox, believes that the state’s tax rates are hurting the business environment and middle-class, but he also seems to focus more on hot topic issues such as crime and infrastructure. He believes that the state has been much too lax as far as crime policy goes, and that the Jerry Brown era AB-109 bill which seeks to “realign” Californian criminal procedure has created a new spike in criminal activity in the state. He has also been an outspoken opponent of the “bullet train,” which seeks to expedite the process of travel from Southern to Northern California. In Assemblyman Cox’s opinion, the billions of dollars being spent on this high-speed rail system would be much better spent on fixing the famously congested freeway system of the state. Being a member of the Californian conservative political establishment means he has been backed by famous California conservatives including Congressmen Dana Rohrabacher and Ed Royce.
If the 2016 election taught us anything it’s that no matter how unclear the path to victory for a political candidate seems, still anything is possible. While “moral victories” (aka, “still losses”) exist in politics, it seems that the state’s conservative base must unify behind one candidate to give a Republican any hope of winning.