Democratic gubernatorial candidate Antonio Villaraigosa
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Antonio Villaraigosa gives his opening statement in a debate. Photo by Chris Stone

Multiple polls, including one just released by UC Berkeley, show Republican businessman John Cox edging out former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa for second place in the June 5 primary, but Villaraigosa and his allies are working feverishly to make sure that does not happen.

A loss by Villaraigosa would take him out of the race for governor since in California’s primary system, the top two vote-getters move on to the general election, regardless of party.

Villaraigosa began a round-the-clock barnstorm of greater Los Angeles on Thursday morning to encourage turnout from the supporters he needs: Latinos, working-class voters and his former constituents. He said the polls don’t reflect the views of those voters, according to the Los Angeles Times. Many are so busy working and taking care of their families that they do not have time to participate in opinion surveys, he said.

“What I understand very clearly from the last 25 years or so of elections is that the south votes later, they don’t vote absentee, and they vote in great numbers on election day,” Villaraigosa told reporters before visiting the Original Farmers Market in Los Angeles. “I’m not paying attention to those (polls) right now. We’re focused on getting out the vote. If our vote comes out, we’re going to do very well.”

In a recent USC/Los Angeles Times poll, Villaraigosa’s strongest base of support was among likely Latino voters, though not by a wide margin over front-runner Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom. Most notably, Newsom and Villaraigosa appear to be neck-and-neck in Los Angeles County, although the poll’s margin of sampling error for the region is plus or minus 8 percentage points.

Cox, a newcomer to California politics who moved to Rancho Santa Fe from Illinois a decade ago, has contributed $4.9 million to his campaign and has been endorsed by President Donald Trump.

In recent appearances, he appears confident that he and Newsom would end up tangling in the general election.

“If you look in the dictionary for the words ‘Bay Area elitist,’ you see Gavin Newsom’s picture,” Cox told more than 100 people Wednesday night, according to The Times.

— City News Service

Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.