California Gubernatorial Frontrunners Divided More Along Personality Than Policy During Debate

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California's six leading candidates for governor discussed topics ranging from immigration to artificial intelligence over the course of a 90-minute debate Tuesday night. Some produced thoughtful answers about the state’s future, others generated responses that came across as general bromides about making things better.

And interspersed were a few key moments that offered a glimpse into where this race stands, now four weeks from election day.

Personalities, not policies seemed to divide (most of) the candidates. Going into the debate, a key question was whether voters would see variety in the strains of Democratic or Republican politics to offer voters. That’s an especially important point in the era of the top-two primary, where voters can choose a candidate regardless of party.

On the Democratic side, there wasn’t much policy daylight between Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, the front-runner, and former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. “I’m with Gavin Newsom,” Villaraigosa said in the early going on a question about affordable housing. Later, he said almost the same thing in a discussion of early childhood education.

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