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California Governor's Campaign Enters Final Stretch

Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gavin Newsom holds a campaign rally on the steps of San Francisco City Hall on Tuesday, May 29, 2018, one week before California's June 5th primary.

Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

The California governor’s race is in its final week before next Tuesday’s primary, with candidates hitting the road as campaign ads swarm voters’ screens and mailboxes.

Gavin Newsom held a rally on the steps of San Francisco City Hall before hopping on a bus to start a week-long campaign swing. On the bus, reporters pressed the Democratic lieutenant governor on if he could credibly seize the fiscal restraint mantle from Governor Jerry Brown as the “adult in the room” with his costly proposals like single-payer health care and universal preschool. Newsom said he does not want to go back to the dark days of state budget cuts in the next recession.

“I’m not a profligate Democrat,” Newsom said. “I have bold ideas, I want to be audacious in terms of the goals, but I’m not reckless.”

Newsom also pledged to serve his entire four — and, if re-elected, eight — years as governor, definitively ruling out a run for president in 2020 or 2024.

“Oh, god, no — all that other stuff is absolutely, unequivocally — it's just, not even of any passing interest to me,” he told reporters. “It really isn't. None. Looking you in the eye when I say this. None."

Newsom is seen as a lock to finish first in next week’s primary, in which the top two finishers — regardless of political party — advance to the November general election. That leaves several other candidates fighting for second place.

Republican businessman John Cox is touting the second tweet in as many weeks from President Trump in a new ad he hopes will encourage GOP voters to coalesce behind him — and not his conservative rival, Assemblyman Travis Allen — to avoid Republicans being shut out of the top two.

State Treasurer John Chiang, meanwhile, is out with an ad hitting former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa as Chiang tries to edge out Villaraigosa as the top Democratic alternative to Newsom.

Villaraigosa, however, is ignoring the negative ads aimed at him by Chiang and Newsom and sticking religiously to his talking points in an ad that shows a cell phone video of ICE arresting a mother living in the country illegally.

It may reflect that he needs to convince voters who are less likely to vote in low-turnout primaries to cast their ballots this time around — and that going negative won't help.

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