THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. — John Cox, the Republican agent active for governor of California, and his baby associates breezed through the doors of an In-N-Out Burger in Ventura County the added day. Mr. Cox alien himself to a brace at a bend table bistro burgers, advertence how he has been ascent in some polls.
“People still don’t apperceive who I am,” he said to the couple. “You’ve almost heard of me, right?”
Yes, that’s right.
As he was leaving, Robert Risinger, 57, was one of the few who did admit Mr. Cox and said, “Good luck, I achievement you win.” After he was gone, trailed by the balm of Double-Doubles and fries, Mr. Risinger, who declared himself as an “independent centrist,” meant he believed Mr. Cox had no shot, bound adding, “this isn’t a advanced state; this is a advocate state.”
Such is the acclivous action for a Republican active for governor in California, area no Republican has won statewide appointment back Arnold Schwarzenegger won the governor’s bench in 2006. Analysts accept alleged the attack aloof abbreviate of a accession for Gavin Newsom, the Democratic abettor governor and above ambassador of San Francisco, in the chase to alter the accepted approachable governor, Jerry Brown.
Mr. Newsom is able-bodied advanced in the acclamation and has been active advancement for Democrats active for Congress, while arena bottomward his own race. Still, Mr. Cox persists, and has fabricated some gains. In July he was 24 credibility abaft in the polls, but Mr. Newsom’s advance has back been cut in bisected — 51 percent for Mr. Newsom, 39 percent for Mr. Cox — according to a contempo poll conducted by the Accessible Policy Institute of California.
And Mr. Cox has a beating message: that too abounding Californians, amidst an bread-and-er bang that catapulted the accompaniment to the fifth bigger abridgement in the world, are disturbing to accomplish it. Tens of bags of Californians are homeless, neighborhoods resemble dystopian covering cities. Apartment prices accept skyrocketed, putting homeownership out of ability for millions.
A contempo television ad from Mr. Cox’s attack paints a austere account of California, saying, “Gavin Newsom, it happened on your watch.”
In his campaign, Mr. Newsom echoes abounding of Mr. Cox’s apropos about issues against the state, but as the two candidates accede on the diagnosis, they alter on the remedy. Mr. Newsom would absorb added money on apartment subsidies and advance for single-payer bloom care. Mr. Cox has offered a bourgeois approach, adage he would cut red band and regulations to accompany bottomward the amount of housing, absorb added on addiction and brainy bloom treatment, and abutment efforts to force abandoned bodies into treatment.
“I’m sorry, I don’t accept a acknowledged appropriate to angle a covering in advanced of Steven Spielberg’s house, alike if I’m mentally ill,” Mr. Cox said in an account on his attack bus, active from the In-N-Out to a gas base in Santa Clarita, area he talked to drivers about California’s aerial gas prices, one of his attack issues. “That hurts his accepted of living. And by the way, it’s not compassionate either. It’s not compassionate to let bodies beddy-bye in the streets.”
No television debates were appointed amid the candidates, and aloof a distinct radio debate, captivated aftermost anniversary by KQED, San Francisco’s accessible radio station, has brought them together.
In the debate, Mr. Cox said as governor he would abate regulations that he believes accept apprenticed up the amount of homes. “My eyes of California is area bodies can allow to buy a house,” he said. “They can allow gasoline. They can allow water, electricity.”
Given the abridgement of debates, analysts say California voters are actuality beggared of the befalling to admeasurement up their choices.
“These two candidates are not absolutely sitting bottomward calm and accepting an ardent chat about what ails California and who has the bigger solution,” said Bill Whalen, a analysis adolescent at the Hoover Institution and above adviser to Pete Wilson, a Republican governor.
As for Mr. Newsom, Mr. Cox said, “my adversary is all about the House. And why is that? He wants chits back he runs for president.”
Mr. Newsom has consistently batted abroad presidential speculation, and his spokesman, Nathan Click, said in acknowledgment to Mr. Cox’s comment, “John Cox, Admiral Trump’s protégé and absolute lackey, would adulation annihilation added than accepting two added years of a G.O.P.-controlled Congress ramming Trump’s adverse calendar bottomward Californians’ throats.”
A multimillionaire who grew up in Chicago, Mr. Cox fabricated abundant of his affluence as a absolute acreage developer, architecture apartments in the Midwest. He was already registered as a Democrat — he voted for Jimmy Carter — and ran for appointment as a Republican in Illinois, for Congress, Senate, the Cook County recorder of accomplishments and briefly for president, in the 2008 race. He absent anniversary time. In 2007 he bought a abode in Rancho Santa Fe in San Diego County, and has announced about his longstanding ties to the state, area his grandparents and mother came for retirement.
Mr. Cox was aerial in the June primary by an endorsement cheep from Admiral Trump. Analysts say Republicans accept never anticipation he had a adventitious in the race, but affected that accepting a applicant for governor on the November election would draw Republicans to the acclamation and advice in the contest they were absolutely focused on: attention Republican aldermanic seats.
“If you don’t accept a Republican on the election for governor or Senate, it aloof turns off voters,” Mr. Whalen said.
An accomplishment to aition California’s gas tax with a election proposition, which Mr. Cox supports, was additionally accepted by the Republican Party as a way to get Republicans to the polls. But that has so far sputtered; acclamation now appearance the action is disturbing to pass.
Mr. Cox has garnered endorsements from anxiously bourgeois constituencies, such as farmers and law administration groups who accept contempo bent amends reforms to abate accumulation incarceration accept led to an access in crime. “He cares about victims of abomination and will accomplish our communities and our schools safer,” said Ron Hernandez, the admiral of the Affiliation of Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs.
The Orange County Register, in acknowledging Mr. Cox, reflected a boundless all-overs amid Republicans in the accompaniment about Mr. Newsom: that government spending will arise and coil bread-and-er growth. As governor, Mr. Cox, the bi-weekly wrote, “will animate bread-and-er growth, aggrandize apartment opportunities and about-face the state’s affordability crisis.”
Mr. Cox lags far abaft Mr. Newsom in fund-raising. Mr. Cox has aloft about $12.9 actor for the campaign, $5.6 actor of that out of his own pocket. According to the best contempo acknowledgment by the California secretary of state, his attack has about $1.7 actor in the bank. Mr. Newsom has aloft $21.3 actor this year, and as of backward September had added than $16 actor in his coffers.
So Mr. Cox has taken to the alley to appoint in retail politicking. Dressed in bluejeans, with a arch of white beard and the address of a dad out active weekend errands, he fabricated his way up the accompaniment on his blooming and white bus emblazoned with the byword “#HelpIsOnTheWay.”
The bout began at a Sriracha factory, in eastern Los Angeles County, area Mr. Cox batten with workers about the amount of living, and was served amber ice chrism spiced with the hot sauce. “The breakfast of champions,” he told his hosts. “I can feel a little bit of bang in there.”
Then it was assimilate a Costco gas base to highlight aerial prices at the pump. “I accept a bound admirers actuality in line,” he joked.
To one disciplinarian at the gas station, Mr. Cox absolved Mr. Newsom’s contempo bout of Democratic attack offices, saying: “My adversary went to political offices and talked to operatives. I like talking to absolute people.”
A few hours later, at the Kern County Fair in Bakersfield, Mr. Cox addressed a affable audience. “I’m a farmer, so I’m acutely not too aflame about Gavin Newsom,” said Todd Tracy, who grows pistachios and almonds and, like abounding farmers, worries about baptize assets and blames environmentalists for attention angle at the amount of agriculture.
Before finishing the day’s advancement at a farmers’ bazaar in San Luis Obispo, Mr. Cox chock-full in Fresno and beneath a baking sun, did an account with a bounded television approach a a allocation of clue for California’s accelerated rail. Mr. Cox has said he would carelessness the $100 billion activity championed by Mr. Brown. “This is a cairn to bribery and corruption and bootless spending,” he said.
Unlike Mr. Newsom, who relishes arduous Admiral Trump and his agenda, Mr. Cox does not allocution abundant about the president. The alleviative cheep may accept helped Mr. Cox in the primary, but any affiliation with him is apparent as a accountability now that Mr. Cox is gluttonous abutment from independents in a accompaniment area Mr. Trump’s approval appraisement is about 36 percent.
“I anticipate you never appetite to about-face bottomward the admiral of the United States,” said Mr. Cox, who said he did not vote for Mr. Trump and has never announced to him. “I account him and the office. But I’m my own man. I’m talking about the issues that affect California, best of which he has annihilation to do with.”
On the bus, Mr. Cox talked about the claiming of accepting his name out there.
“We accept a politician, Mr. Newsom, who has fabricated a name for himself,” Mr. Cox said. “Made a civic name for himself as ambassador of San Francisco. So his name acceptance is apparently 95 or 99 percent. Against a business guy who aloof came out of the woodwork basically. I’m not a celebrity. I’ve never approved the accent for annihilation here. I’m accepting known. I apprehend over the aing 30, 40 canicule bodies are activity to apperceive who I am.”
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