Democratic candidates need to win the California Senate race to win control of both houses of the Legislature

The race for California’s top cop focuses on abortion, gun control and crime.

In the nation’s most populous state at least, elections are never easy, and the campaign for California’s chief executive is no exception.

The race pits Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell against Republican businessman John Cox, who in May became the first of three sitting Congress members to announce plans to retire at the end of his term. They are running for an open California Senate seat that is expected to fall to Democrats.

Cox’s announcement came just two days before the state’s primary, which will determine which political party controls its Senate seat.

Both candidates have made appeals to the district’s liberal-leaning voters, who dominate the electorate by large margins and have helped California elect Barack Obama twice and Hillary Clinton four times.

“We’re getting really close, and it would be wonderful to have two Democrats in the Senate,” said Republican Party Chairman Jim Brulte on Tuesday. “The Democrats will win that race and then we will go to the state house.”

Democrats need to win the California Senate race on November 5 to win control of both houses of the Legislature.

Cox has spent $2 million of his own money and more than $10 million from his campaign against Swalwell on a two-pronged strategy: reaching out to moderates to get them to vote for him, and focusing on a top priority for Swalwell, gun control.

“This is about one of the most egregious cases of gun violence that I can think of, and that’s the number one issue in California,” Swalwell told reporters last week. “I’m going to take whatever actions I can to make this a safer state.”

Cox said Tuesday that he would consider signing an assault weapons ban into law. He said he would also support universal background checks for the mentally ill.

The Democratic contender also promised to push gun control legislation in the U.S. Senate.

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