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Recording Artist, Puppeteer Among 27 Candidates for California Governor

Marcio Jose Sanchez / AP Photo

A voter casts a ballot at the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters, Friday, Nov. 4, 2016, in San Jose , Calif.

Marcio Jose Sanchez / AP Photo

Former big city mayors, an author, a recording artist — and some other colorful characters — will be among the 27 candidates for governor during California’s June primary election.

That’s according to a certified list published by the Secretary of State’s Office last week.

USC Public Policy Professor Sherry Bebitch Jeffe said California has a history of eccentric candidates.

“It doesn’t surprise me that we’ve got a transhumanist lecturer as well as a puppeteer musician. Anybody can run,” Jeffe said, referring to Libertarian candidate Zoltan Istvan and Green Party candidate Christopher Carlson, respectively.

Transhumanism is a way of thinking about the future that is “based on the premise that the human species in its current form does not represent the end of our development but rather a comparatively early phase,” according to WhatIsTranshumanism.org.

Democratic Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom is the frontrunner in the race to succeed Gov. Jerry Brown, who is termed out after 16 years as governor.

A recent poll placed Republican businessman John Cox a distant second followed by former Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, a Democrat.

Villaraigosa, who spent eight years as Los Angeles’ mayor, will instead be described on the June ballot as a "Public Policy Advisor."

That’s because state law requires candidates use their current occupations, not past elected offices.

Jeffe said this could give candidates such as Republican John Cox – who will be described as "Businessman/Taxpayer Advocate" – a slight advantage.

“It’s a far more potent designation than public policy advisor,” the professor said.

Some candidates, she added, such as frontrunner and Democratic Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, add a second descriptor – in his case, "Businessman" — to go with their government title.

“It sends the message that the voter need not be so negative about Newsom as part of the problem in terms of government because he’s also an outsider,” Jeffe said.

A spokesman for Villaraigosa said in a statement that the campaign is confident voters will see the former mayor as “a leader whose top priority is to ensure economic equality and opportunity,” and not worry about his title.

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