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Davis Takes Calif. Democratic Lead

May 22, 1998

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Lt. Gov. Gray Davis has surged and businessman Al Checchi has plummeted in the race for California’s Democratic gubernatorial nomination, according to a poll that found Checchi has alienated voters with his negative TV commercials.

According to the Los Angeles Times poll, Davis has support from 28 percent of those likely to vote. Last month, Davis polled only 13 percent.

Checchi, who in a Times poll last month was tied for first among Democrats with Rep. Jane Harman, has gone from 22 percent to 10 percent among likely voters.

In the poll out today, Harman was picked by 16 percent.

Leading all gubernatorial candidates is Attorney General Dan Lungren, a Republican, who is favored by 37 percent of likely voters.

In the June 2 primary, California voters will be able to vote, for the first time, for a candidate from any party. The top vote-getter in each party will advance to the general election.

Checchi’s drop stems partly from the negative tone of ads critical of his Democratic opponents. Nearly half of all likely voters said Checchi’s campaign is the most negative of the candidates, and only 6 percent of that group said they would support him.

The Times interviewed 1,097 registered voters from May 16-20, including 506 considered likely to cast ballots. The margin of error for likely voters is 5 percentage points in either direction.

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