Early poll pegs San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer as favored Republican candidate for California governor race

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) — A California online field poll shows the Republican party has an outside chance at winning the 2018 governors race. San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer is the frontrunner among Republicans, while Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom tops the list of prominent Democrats. 

It is early, the race is wide open, and Mayor Faulconer when re-elected said he would not run for governor.

"Even though California is becoming a bluer and bluer state, there’s still a lot of red voters here,"  Thad Kousser with the UCSD political science department told KUSI. "You saw a lot of them voting for Donald Trump, and there’s a core of Californians — about a third of Californians — who want to see a Republican be our next governor."

The Republican party would need to need to have a new message "very different" from what we’ve seen in the past, according to Kousser. Mayor Faulconer fits that mold after being elected in a heavily Democratic big city elevated his status within the party. He also appeals to those who favor his stance on climate change, and a pathway to citizenship. 

The survey showed voter preferences by party registration. Democrat Gavin Newsom was at the top at 23 percent. Kevin Faulconer was second, with a surprising 16 percent. Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin was third at 11 percent.  Faulconer (down to 6%) and Swearengin (3%) both drop significantly in polls, however, when tied to party affiliation. 

This drop indicates Faulconer and Swearengin have low name recognition, which can be overcome with heavy spending. A Republican could gather as much as 35 percent of the vote in high unemployment  areas of the Central Valley and Imperial Valley, who feel left out. 

The Democratic party’s candidate will have the clearest path to becoming the next governor, though. The Republicans hold no constitutional offices in the entire state of California. This drastic lean shift to the left in California began with the election of Governor Jerry Brown in 2010. 

Categories: Local San Diego News