Los Angeles

Candidates at Gubernatorial Debate Can't Help But Bring Up Newsom's Absence

“If he doesn’t respect you now as a candidate, why should you trust him as Governor?"

Gubernatorial candidates sparred at USC's School of Public Policy Monday night at a debate only on NBC4, where candidates called each other out -- and called out Gavin Newsom, who was notably absent.

Watch the Debate: Scroll to the bottom of this page to see video from the debate.

John Cox, a businessman who highlights that he has no political background as one of his talking points, brought up Newsom's absence at least twice.

Even democratic candidate John Chiang, the current state treasurer, took a dig at Newsom.

“If he doesn’t respect you now as a candidate, why should you trust him as Governor?” Chiang said.

Conan Nolan and Colleen Williams moderated the 90-minute debate which focused on immigration, budget issues, housing and beyond. Candidates included Travis Allen, John Chiang, Delaine Eastin, Antonio Villaraigosa, and John Cox.

All candidates were taking aim at making the cut in the November run-off.

When asked about the homeless crisis currently facing the state, former state school superintendent Delaine Eastin, the only female candidate present for the debate, said she would declare the issue a “state of emergency.”

Several social media users tuning into NBC4’s Facebook Live commented how they hadn’t had a good grasp on where Eastin and Chiang stood before, but were impressed with their platforms.

On social media, Allen was also getting noticed.

"You take a look at the state of California – it has been run into the ground by Jerry Brown and the Brown family," Assemblyman Travis Allen said while advocating for tax cuts in the state.

At one point, Allen, another republican candidate who currently as an assemblyman represents as Los Alamitos, Seal Beach, parts of Huntington Beach and others, turned his focus on fellow republican Cox.

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"There's another republican in the race who made all his money -- makes all his money -- with Section 8 housing," said Allen. "John Cox's units have complaints of rodents, cockroaches and holes in the walls."

While addressing housing, former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said he opposed the effort in Sacramento to force cities to build high density housing along transit lines.

“The communities of LA want to make their own decisions,” he said.

Five candidates, hoping to help seal the deal with voters, hashed out topics that affect the every day lives of Californians, while chasing a candidate that was not on stage. Whether the debate helped or hurt a candidate will be seen as the June 5th primary approaches.

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