Conservative businessman John Cox surges in latest polls for California governor's race

Republican candidate for California governor John Cox made a campaign stop in Burlingame Thursday at the small headquarters of the San Mateo County Republican Party.

Cox has been endorsed by President Donald Trump. "I'm very proud of that," he said.

Cox, a conservative San Diego businessman, has surged into second place in the race for governor, according to the latest poll by the Public Policy Institute of California. If that holds in next month's election, Cox likely would face off against Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom in the runoff in November.

Cox is urging California Republicans to rally around him. "Reduce taxes, reduce the cost of living, make it so our schools are better," he said, rattling off some of his goals.

One of Cox' key targets is California's Sanctuary State Law. "I want the rule of law enforced. So I would get rid of sanctuary state the first day I am elected governor," he said.

With Newsom as a solid frontrunner, the June race has been mostly a battle for second place, with the latest poll showing Cox at 19 percent, four points higher than former Los Angeles Mayor Anthony Villaraigosa.

Newsom's campaign has indicated it would rather see Cox place second in June because Cox would be easier to defeat in November than Villaraigosa.

"Donald Trump raised the profile of Mr. Cox,” said University of San Francisco politics Professor James Taylor. “So that certainly helps him in a real way and Republicans just want to get in the game.”

Taylor says while Cox does have a chance of being in the runoff election, he has little chance of ultimately becoming governor.

"Republicans, even for symbolic purposes, have to do their best to open up an alternative to the Democrat vs Democrat scenario that is becoming a trend in California," said Taylor.

"The people of California want a choice in November. They don't want to choose between Tweedledee and Tweedledum," Cox said.