Capitol Alert

Jobs and health care on voters’ minds heading into California governor’s race

California voters say jobs and the economy, health care, crime and immigration policies are among their most pressing concerns heading into a year in which they will elect a replacement for Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown.

In a race in which many voters have yet to engage, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom – a Democrat from San Francisco – continues to lead next year’s contest for governor with support from 26 percent of likely voters, according to the latest survey from UC Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies.

In a virtual tie for second place are businessman John Cox, 11 percent, former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, 10 percent, and Assemblyman Travis Allen, 9 percent. Villaraigosa is a Democrat, while Cox and Allen are Republicans.

Under the state’s election system, the top two candidates in June will advance to the fall runoff regardless of party.

While most of the candidates’ standings changed little over the last two statewide surveys, Villaraigosa’s share of support dropped by seven percentage points over the May poll.

Democrats John Chiang, the state treasurer, and Delaine Eastin, a former state school’s chief, trailed the pack at 7 percent and 4 percent, respectively.

“Voters are only giving casual attention to the governor’s race at this stage,” said poll director Mark DiCamillo, noting the one-third of likely voters that remain undecided on a candidate.

DiCamillo provided 20 issues and asked respondents to select their top priorities. The first four were followed by state spending, housing costs, taxes, water, the environment, K-12 schools, climate change, race relations, the state’s new gas tax law to fund road and highway repairs, equal pay for women and the affordability of college.

Lower down the list were reforming the state’s public employee pension system, reducing income inequality and, last at No. 20, the state’s high-speed rail project, a priority of Brown, who has yet to endorse in the race.

Among Newsom’s supporters, the top issues are health care, climate change and environmental policies, while the leading issues for Villaraigosa’s backers are the economy and jobs, health care policies and race relations.

Cox loyalists list crime and law enforcement, the economy and jobs and immigration. Allen’s supporters identify state spending, immigration and crime and law enforcement as their priorities.

Christopher Cadelago: 916-326-5538, @ccadelago