Health care, immigration dominate California governor race
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — No topic has dominated California’s governor race like President Donald Trump. The Republicans want to be like him; the Democrats want to oppose him. But whoever wins will face a long list of challenges from housing and homelessness to health care.
Here’s a look at some of the debates that have emerged during the race, which includes Democrats Gavin Newsom, Antonio Villaraigosa, John Chiang and Delaine Eastin and Republicans John Cox and Travis Allen.
All the Democrats say they support, at least in concept, “single-payer” health care — the idea that the government should pay for health coverage for everyone in the state, instead of the complex mix of employers, unions, individuals, Medicare and Medicaid that reins today.
But that didn’t stop it from being a major sticking point between them.
Newsom was an enthusiastic supporter of a bill sponsored by the California Nurses Association that would implement a “single-payer” health care system. But it lacked key details, most notably a plan to cover the $400 billion cost. Chiang and Villaraigosa accuse Newsom of misleading voters with unattainable promises. Villaraigosa called it “snake oil.”
For his part, Newsom calls his rivals “can’t-do Democrats” too fixated on the challenges of single-payer health care.
Allen and Cox oppose single-payer health care.
For the Republicans, California’s “sanctuary state” law has been an animating issue the way health care has been for Democrats. Cox and Allen are resolutely opposed. They say repealing it would be among their top priorities.
The legislation, approved by the Legislature last year and signed by outgoing Gov. Jerry Brown, restricts local law enforcement’s cooperation with federal immigration authorities. It also prohibits jail officials from transferring inmates to immigration agents, unless they’re convicted of certain crimes.
The Republicans say the “sanctuary” law protects criminals — a charge supporters dispute.
The Democrats all support the legislation and say California must do all it can to stand up for immigrants.
The candidates all agree it’s too hard to build new housing in California but offer widely varying ideas for addressing the state’s housing and homelessness crisis.
For decades, California has failed to build enough homes to meet demand.
Newsom and Villaraigosa have embraced plans to build 3.5 million new homes by 2025 — a target highlighted by the McKinsey Global Institute in 2016 as the number of new homes needed to catch up with current needs and keep pace with demand.
Chiang and Eastin say the target is unrealistic and have set goals they say are more achievable. The Democrats have also called for bonds of various sizes to build affordable housing.
Cox and Allen both look skeptically at housing subsidies. Cox advocates eliminating environmental and other regulations that he says slow construction and raise costs. Allen says cutting taxes could give people more money to afford high housing costs.
Education hasn’t been a prominent issue in the race, at least publicly. But it’s driven a whole lot of the spending behind the scenes.
Charter school advocates — including former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Netflix founder Reed Hastings — have pumped more than $22 million into an independent campaign group supporting Villaraigosa.
Villaraigosa angered teachers unions as mayor, when he took over several failing schools and was critical of the union. He’s touting improved graduation rates in LA during his time as mayor.
Newsom has called for more state oversight of charters — a top priority for the state’s influential teachers unions, which have spent about $1.3 million supporting him as part of a coalition of unions.
Allen has called for more charter schools and advocates more “school choice” — the flexibility for parents to send their children somewhere other than the assigned neighborhood public school.