RSF gubernatorial hopeful fails to win GOP backing

RSF gubernatorial hopeful fails to win GOP backing
Rancho Santa Fe businessman John Cox, center, who is running for governor, speaks April 30 as a group opposed to the state’s gas tax delivered boxes of signatures to the county regisrar of voters in an effort to repeal the controversial tax. Cox is flanked by former San Diego City Councilman Carl DeMaio, left, and Diane Harkey, a Republican candidate for the 49th Congressional District seat. Photo by Shana Thompson

Mail-in ballots are beginning to go out to voters ahead of California’s June 5 primary election, but GOP voters may have a tough time choosing whom to back after delegates failed to endorse a gubernatorial candidate at the California Republic Party’s state convention in San Diego over the weekend.

Rancho Santa Fe businessman John Cox and Assemblyman Travis Allen, R-Huntington Beach, were vying for the party’s endorsement for governor, but neither earned the 60 percent of votes needed. Cox received 55.3 percent, Allen received 40.5 percent and 4.1 percent of delegates chose to endorse neither candidate.

Primary voting for governor will see all candidates from all parties on the same ballot, with the top two vote-getters facing off in November, regardless of their party affiliation.

California’s Democrats also failed to endorse a candidate for governor at their convention in February, but Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom holds a wide lead over all rivals in most polls. Cox and former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, a Democrat, are polling close together in second and third, with state Treasurer John Chiang and Allen polling a little ways behind them in fourth and fifth, respectively.

The danger for Republicans, according to many of the party’s delegates, is that if a Republican gubernatorial candidate is not on the November ballot, it could hinder GOP turnout for the U.S. Senate, the House of Representatives and down-ballot elections at the state and local levels.

“It’s absolutely necessary that we as a party are united around the top race in the state,” Los Angeles County delegate Karen Roseberry said as she unsuccessfully urged the party to reconsider the endorsement vote, according to the Los Angeles Times. “Every down-ticket race is counting on this.”

A spokesman for Cox’s campaign said the wealthy businessman is now the only Republican with enough funding to challenge the Democrats, according to the Times and the San Diego Union-Tribune. Allen — who said he was “ecstatic” that Cox failed to claim an endorsement victory despite his wealth — said he believes he can still challenge for a top-two finish next month. He said he is sending out more than 13 million mailers this week to invigorate the state’s GOP voters.

The three-day convention wrapped up May 6 at the Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina in the Midway District, with delegates voting to endorse retired Judge Steven Bailey for attorney general, Cole Harris for lieutenant governor and Mark Meuser for secretary of state.

But in another blow to the party, there were no candidates eligible for endorsement in the U.S. Senate race to challenge Dianne Feinstein. Patrick Little, a neo-Nazi who has praised Adolf Hitler and has polled second behind Feinstein in recent polls, was barred from the convention May 5 when he tried to register.

State Republican leaders said there was no room for Little’s anti-Semitic views in their party. State GOP leaders have distanced themselves from Little, saying they have no records of him ever serving as a delegate and he has no relationship to the state Republican party.

— City News Service

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