Republican businessman John Cox, who spent the lead-up to Tuesday's primary touting President Trump's endorsement and railing against California's sanctuary city law, indicated Wednesday that he'll at least tweak his message as he heads to a November gubernatorial matchup against Democratic Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom.
Cox will need to woo more centrist voters to have any chance of competing against Newsom in a state where Republicans are now outnumbered by no party preference voters. But in an interview with KQED, Cox walked a fine line between keeping Trump close and turning his attention to his Democratic opponent, the clear favorite in the race for governor.
"We are going to be talking about issues. We are going to have a substantive debate," Cox said. "Gavin Newsom is going to make this about President Trump -- well, if he wants to do that, he ought to quit the governor's race and run for president."
Newsom has repeatedly sworn in recent months that he will not be running for president in 2020. For his part, the lieutenant governor said Wednesday at San Francisco's Ferry Building that he, too, hopes the race will focus on policy differences, not personality or style.
"I like John ... I think he's a good guy and I'm not going to run a campaign that's scorched earth. I don't intend to," Newsom said. "I just honestly think this is a great opportunity to ... to contrast visions. And I just think on policy there's so much there that I hope we don't get into a process and personality because I don't think we need to. And I don't think he feels differently than that."