Villaraigosa and Cox bring campaigns for governor to Fresno

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Republican John Cox and Democrat Antonio Villaraigosa are in a tight race, hoping to advance to the November primary election.

On Tuesday, both came to Fresno to make a final pitch to Valley voters.

Antonio Villaraigosa says as LA's Mayor he was tough on crime and supported law enforcement.

"I was mayor of the city with one of the highest crime rates in America, I committed my city, I committed my administration to reducing that violent crime. While I was mayor growing our police department to ten thousand strong."

Those are among the reasons the Fresno County Deputy Sheriff's Association, the Fresno Police Officers Association, and Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer say they endorse Villaraigosa for governor. They believe he will be tough on crime and criminals.

At a news conference held in front of Fresno Police Headquarters by the Villaraigosa campaign, Dyer told the crowd, "Having a governor in office who understands the importance of keeping those individuals in prison, when they need to be kept in prison, is something we desperately need."

Democratic Gavin Newsom, who currently serves as Lieutenant Governor, leads the polls for the June primary. The top-two finishers will advance to the November general election.

Villaraigosa is in a fierce battle with Republican John Cox for that second spot.

Cox also brought his campaign to Fresno and touted his endorsements, especially from President Trump and Valley Republicans in Congress.

"I am very proud that not only has the President endorsed me, but I got the early endorsement of majority leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield), as well as Congressman Devin Nunes (R-Tulare) as well as Congressman Jeff Denham (R-Turlock)."

But, Villaraigosa suggested Republicans would be wasting their vote if they choose Cox in July, "I think a vote for John Cox, is a vote for Gavin Newsom, and that's pretty clear."

Newsom does appear to be favoring Cox as an opponent.

In Newsom's campaign ads he notes, if not promotes, Cox' stand on popular Republican issues.

We asked Cox about Villaraigosa's claim that a vote for Cox is a vote for Newsom. He responded, "Not at all. A vote for me is a vote for me in the November election, and it's a vote for getting a state that is enjoyable and livable and has opportunity."

Cox is from Illinois, where he was both a Democrat and Republican. He ran for Congress, and the Senate and lost. He also ran for President in 2008. A businessman and attorney, he moved to California a decade ago.

Villaraigosa is a lifelong resident of the state, in addition to being a former mayor of Los Angeles, he has also served as speaker of the state assembly.
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