Campaigning to become the next governor of California has already begun, a position that whoever wins is likely to be one of the main antagonists toward President Donald Trump, The Hill reported.
Three prominent Democrats – Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, state Treasurer John Chiang, and former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa – have already thrown their hats into the ring and the field is expected to grow.
Though the next governor will only take office in 2019, he is likely to be seen as a bulwark against Trump and as a potential presidential candidate.
"This will be the most-followed race in 2018, particularly with the election of Donald Trump," Villaraigosa told The Hill. "People are going to be a lot more interested in the governor's race in California, in no small part because California has charted a dramatically different path. Much of what President Obama tried to do and wanted to do, we've been doing."
A new twist this election is a changed California primary system, where the top two vote-getters earn a ticket to the general election, regardless of their party affiliation.
The weak Republican Party in the state appears to have a chance to make the runoff only if it organizes behind one candidate, while if the GOP field is divided among several possibilities, an all-Democratic race in the general election appears certain.
The few public opinion polls show Newsom as an early leader, with 23 percent in a Field Poll conducted in November. No other Democratic candidate registered double figures. In that survey, two Republicans who have not announced their candidacy, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and former Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin, had 16 percent and 11 percent, respectively.
Newsom also leads in fundraising so far, SFGate.com reported.
He announced he raised $2.7 million in the second half of 2016, giving him a total of $11.5 million cash on hand so far, which is far more than his major announced rivals.
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