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Candidates for Governor Square Off in Debate Ahead of Primary Election

With three months to go before the June primary, five candidates will be part of the televised discussion Monday at the USC Brovard Auditorium

Five candidates seeking to become California's next governor took part in a debate Monday night at the USC Bovard Auditorium.

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The debate, in partnership with the USC Sol Price School of Public Policy, was co-moderated by NBC4 anchor Colleen Williams and NBC4 chief political reporter Conan Nolan. NBC4 viewers joined in the conversation on all social media platforms @NBCLA with hashtag #DebateforCA, and were able to follow the moderators at @ColleenNBCLA and @ConanNBCLA.

[LA GALLERY] Meet Some of the Candidates Running for California Governor

"California's Race for Governor" was a policy-focused debate with an opportunity for the public to hear the candidates' plans to improve the quality of life for people and communities within California. Williams and Nolan covered a broad range of topics critical to local viewers, from healthcare, jobs and housing to gun violence and immigration and more.

Scroll down to read about the participating candidates, who will be part of the June 5 primary election. The top-two candidates from that election will face each other in a the Nov. 6 general election to decide who will replace the state's longest-serving governor, Jerry Brown.

Tune in to NBC4 on Monday, March 26 for a televised California Gubernatorial Debate live at the USC University Park Campus in downtown Los Angeles from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m. NBC4 will also live stream the debate beginning at 6:30 p.m. at NBCLA.com and Facebook Live @NBCLA.


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Criteria for candidate participation was based on availability and determined by polling averages prior to Feb. 1. The polls used to determine eligibility came from the following sources: USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times, PPIC, and IGS.

Meet the Candidates in Monday's Debate

Travis Allen, Republican state assemblyman 

Assemblyman Travis Allen is a Republican candidate who represents District 72 in the state Assembly. His district includes Fountain Valley, Los Alamitos, Seal Beach, Westminster, the majority of Garden Grove, parts of Huntington Beach and Santa Ana, and the unincorporated communities of Midway and Rossmoor. His campaign has focused on cutting taxes, and getting tough on crime.

John Chiang, Democrat, state treasurer

Democratic candidate John Chiang is the current state treasurer. He has previously held positions as state controller (2007-2015) and as a member of the state Board of Equalization (1997-2007). His campaign has focused on education, affordable housing and policies to prevent sexual harassment and abuse. 

John Cox, Republican businessman

Republican candidate John Cox does not have a career in politics, which he himself has acknowledged. He is an accountant, businessman and onetime host of the radio show "Progressive Conservative" in Chicago. In 2008, Cox ran for U.S. president, but withdrew from the election that same year. His campaign focuses on eliminating so-called sanctuary cities, defending the Second Amendment and Proposition 13 -- which was passed in 1978 and limits the state's ability to raise property taxes even if a market's property value goes up -- and repealing the new gasoline tax.

Delaine Eastin, Democratic former state assemblywoman and state superintendent 

Delaine Eastin is a Democratic candidate who was the first woman elected California Superintendent of Public Education (1995-2003). She has represented Alameda and Santa Clara counties in the state Assembly (1986-1994). Her campaign is focused on education, affordable healthcare, infrastructure improvement, affordable housing, and protections for people of color, immigrants, LGBTQ people and others.

Antonio Villaraigosa, Democrat, former Los Angeles mayor and assembly speaker

Antonio Villaraigosa is a Democratic candidate who became Los Angeles' first Latino mayor in more than 150 years (2005 - 2013). He represented District 14 in the Los Angeles City Council, was a member of the state Assembly (1996-1998) and was speaker of the Assembly, as well (1998-2000). His campaign focuses on economic growth, parity in education, construction of more affordable housing, protection of immigrants and 'Dreamers,' and affordable healthcare.

June 5 Election Deadlines

Voter Registration: Online or postmarked by May 21

Vote-by-Mail Ballot Request: Must arrive by May 29

Completed Ballots, Including Vote-by-Mail:

  • Personally delivered ballots: Must be delivered by close of polls on June 5
  • Mailed ballots: Must be postmarked on or before June 5, 2018, and received by your county elections office no later than June 8, 2018.
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