California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom will advance to the November election to replace Gov. Jerry Brown after securing the lead in Tuesday's primary election.
Newsom had approximately 35 percent of the vote with about 25 percent of precincts reporting. Republican businessman John Cox clinched the second spot with 26 percent of the vote.
"We're engaged in an epic battle, and it looks like voters will have a real choice this November — between a governor who is going to stand up against Donald Trump and a foot soldier in his war on California," Newsom told cheering supporters at his victory rally in San Francisco's Mission District.
Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and state Assemblyman Travis Allen of Huntington Beach were both tied for third with 11.1 percent each.
Because of California's "jungle primary," the top two vote-getters — regardless of party — advance to a runoff in November.
The primary was largely a race for second place. Newsom consistently led in the polls and in fundraising, and was the early favorite to finish first. But the second spot was more of a toss-up. Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa appeared to hold the position early on in the race. But in the weeks leading up to the primary, Republican businessman John Cox appeared to be edging him out.
Cox received support from an unlikely source in the final weeks of the campaign: Newsom. In hopes of avoiding a more competitive race against another Democrat in the fall, Newsom aired ads that appeared to support Cox. The commercials sought to appeal to conservatives by highlighting Cox's connection to President Trump, who endorsed Cox.
Cox spoke after polls had closed and said he would work to repeal California's gas tax if elected governor.
"I just talked to Gavin Newsom, but let me just take a moment to send him another message," Cox said. "Mr. Newsom made it clear that he wanted to run against me instead of another Democrat. Well, as I told him at San Jose, in the debate, be careful Mr. Newsom what you wish for. Mr. Newsom and his corrupt cronies, they did a bunch of ads touting their opposition to the president. Well let’s send him the very first message and that is it wasn’t Donald Trump who made California the highest taxed state in the country. It was Gavin Newsom and the Democrats."
Polls show Newsom would be the clear favorite in November if he faced Cox.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.