Republican John Cox Inches Ahead of Antonio Villaraigosa for 2nd Place in CA Governor’s Race: Poll

Top row, from left: Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, former L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Treasurer John Chiang and former schools chief Delaine Eastin. Bottom row, from left: Assemblyman Travis Allen; attorney John Cox; Sen. Dianne Feinstein; state Senate leader Kevin de León. (Credit: Los Angeles Times)

Top row, from left: Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, former L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Treasurer John Chiang and former schools chief Delaine Eastin. Bottom row, from left: Assemblyman Travis Allen; attorney John Cox; Sen. Dianne Feinstein; state Senate leader Kevin de León. (Credit: Los Angeles Times)

Republican businessman John Cox has nudged ahead of former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa for second place in California’s race for governor, while Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom has shored up his front-runner status among voters, according to a new poll from the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California.

The survey released Wednesday night also found that Sen. Dianne Feinstein continues to hold a sizable lead in her reelection bid over fellow Democrat and former state Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León of Los Angeles.

With the June 5 primary approaching, Cox’s rising fortunes in the governor’s race should be well received by Newsom — facing a Republican in the November election will likely increase his odds for victory. No Republican has been elected to statewide office in California since 2006, and Democrats currently hold an edge of nearly 20 percentage points over the GOP in voter registration.

With Newsom’s comfortable lead in the polls and fundraising, the governor’s race now appears to be a contest for second place — sufficient to advance to the general election under California’s top-two primary system. Predicting which candidates will make the cut is another matter. A quarter of likely voters in the state remain undecided, making the race extremely volatile, PPIC President Mark Baldassare said.

Read the full story LATimes.com.