Gavin Newsom is the target as 6 candidates battle in California governor debate – Orange County Register

LOS ANGELES — Six candidates for California governor clashed over health care, education and immigration issues in the first major debate of 2018 on Saturday morning at USC. The lively debate frequently pitted Gavin Newsom against everyone else.

Newsom, the frontrunner in public-opinion polls on the race to succeed Gov. Jerry Brown, faced criticism from fellow Democrats Antonio Villaraigosa and John Chiang over his support for a single-payer health-care system.

The state’s lieutenant governor and the former San Francisco mayor, Newsom also absorbed a shot from Villaraigosa, the former Los Angeles mayor, over the poor results of African American students in San Francisco schools.

From the first question, about President Trump decrying immigration from “shithole countries,” Republicans John Cox and Travis Allen got to show off their sharp differences with Newsom, Villaraigosa, Chiang and Delaine Eastin after the Democrats labeled Trump “racist.”

In front of a cheering, jeering crowd at the “town hall” event put on by the Empowerment Congress, L.A. County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and USC — and heard live on KPCC-FM (89.3) and — the most prolonged back-and-forth was about the proposal to establish single-payer health care for the state.

“I’ve always supported it,” said Newsom, a position he shares with Eastin, the former state schools superintendent. “I’ll be the governor who achieves it for California.”

Saying he supports single payer “philosophically,” Villaraigosa accused Newsom of having no plan to pay for the program and “selling you snake oil.”

“We’ve got to address the fact it’s going to cost $400 billion,” Villaraigosa said.

Chiang, the state treasurer, said he favors a universal health-care program but asked Newsom: “What percentage are you going to increase payroll taxes to pay for single payer?”

Newsom responded to the jabs: “The one argument that doesn’t work with me is that it…

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