Welcome to your guide to the key policy positions of Republican John Cox and Democrat Gavin Newsom, the candidates facing off in California’s race for governor.

Here’s where they stand on the issues.


Businessman John Cox, Republican: Cox is a proponent of vouchers for low-income students to allow families to send their children to charter or private schools. He has called for a full investigative review of the state school system to find and fix inefficiencies.

Cox has also blasted the cost of higher education in the state and has said cost-cutting measures should include looking at professors’ course loads to ensure colleges and universities are getting the most out of their employees.

Rather than spending on education, Cox has said, the next governor should work to make California more affordable, which would allow families to pay for preschool and child care of their choosing.

Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, Democrat: Newsom, who has made education a primary plank of his campaign platform, has emphasized a promise to work toward universal preschool in the state and wants a greater focus on investing in early childhood education and care for the first three years of a child’s life. He also wants to launch college savings accounts for all incoming kindergarten students in the state.

Newsom would also guarantee two free years of community college tuition for California students and says he would work toward reducing the cost of higher education to relieve student debt.


Cox: Cox is opposed to implementing a state-run single-payer healthcare system. He has mockingly suggested that the state could also provide “single-payer food and single-payer housing” for everyone.

In a 2017 opinion piece for the Orange County Register titled “Health care for all? More like how to destroy California,” Cox said the only way that implementing state-sponsored universal healthcare could work “is to drastically cut payments to hospitals, doctors and drug companies — or put the doctors, nurses and hospitals on the state payroll, which will drive many of our doctors to pack up and leave.”

Still, Cox has been critical of a healthcare system that he told The Times “was designed by political insiders and healthcare corporate lobbyists to protect their monopoly profits, not to provide decent healthcare at a reasonable price.”

“I want to break up the healthcare corporate monopolies, make insurance companies compete and turn patients into consumers with power over their healthcare dollars,” Cox said.

Newsom: Achieving universal healthcare in California has been a central part of Newsom’s campaign for governor. While Newsom was mayor of San Francisco, the city adopted a universal healthcare system in 2006 called Healthy San Francisco. At its peak, it provided affordable care to more than 70,000 uninsured residents in the city.

He has promised to pursue a universal healthcare system if he’s elected governor but has not outlined a clear plan to fund such a program.

In 2017, Newsom endorsed legislation by state Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) and now-Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins (D-San Diego), Senate Bill 562, that sought to implement a state-sponsored single-payer healthcare program. The legislation was shelved in the Assembly over concerns about the cost and the lack of a comprehensive plan for how to pay for and implement such a massive new government program. A legislative analysis estimated the cost to be $400 billion a year.

But while his support for SB 562 was enthusiastic, it was also nuanced. Newsom was endorsed by the California Nurses Assn., the most vocal backer of the bill, but acknowledged there were some “open-ended” issues with the legislation. He has also voiced support for an effort by a coalition of labor unions, community health organizations and immigrant rights groups to steer the healthcare debate awayfrom SB 562.

Housing and homelessness

Cox: Cox, who owns a real estate investment and property management company, has a goal for developers to build 3 million new homes over the next decade. He has said the state needs to reduce regulations on builders, including replacing its primary environmental law governing development, the California Environmental Quality Act, with a less comprehensive measure.

Cox also wants to allow Californians to be able to take the property tax benefits they receive under Proposition 13 with them when they move.

He is against Proposition 10, which would repeal the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act, a state law that prohibits cities and counties from imposing most new forms of rent control, including on single-family homes or apartments built after 1995. If the initiative passes, local governments would be free to put any restrictions on rents that they choose.

On homelessness, Cox believes the state should rely more heavily on nonprofits and other private providers for assistance.

Newsom: Newsom wants developers to build 3.5 million homes from when he takes office through 2025, which would be an unprecedented building boom compared with modern California history. He wants a fivefold increase in a state tax credit to finance low-income housing, bringing the state budget cost to $500 million a year. And Newsom supports eliminating regulations that he contends make it difficult for developers to produce middle-income homes.

Newsom is against Proposition 10 and believes that the Costa-Hawkins law should be changed to add more renter protections.

On homelessness, Newsom has said he would appoint a cabinet-level homelessness czar who would be responsible for ensuring that the state’s housing, criminal justice, healthcare and welfare departments work together on the issue.

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