Another Democratic challenger, John Chiang, has been state treasurer since 2015 and previously was California's state controller. Chiang said he's already helped with the state housing shortage by increasing financing as state treasurer for new and rehabilitated housing by over 80 percent from 2014 levels, including funding to help the homeless.
Last month's Berkeley IGS Poll placed Chiang's support at 7 percent, while Villaraigosa received 9 percent support. By comparison, voter preferences in December 2017's poll showed Villaraigosa at 17 percent and Chiang at 5 percent.
Both Chiang and Villaraigosa have launched a media blitz in the final weeks of the crowded race before the primary. Villaraigosa has received substantial funding for ad buying from several billionaires: Netflix CEO Reed Hastings and Eli Broad, the Los Angeles philanthropist who founded what is now KB Home.
Chiang's message in his ads has been his fiscal experience that helped California through the tough times. He has overseen California agencies responsible for investment, finance and state check-writing.
"Financing the creation of more affordable housing has been a top priority of mine, and one that I will continue to act on as governor," Chiang said in a statement. "I strongly believe we need to think big and act boldly to address a housing problem that has become an economic and humanitarian crisis."
Chiang also takes credit for helping to lead a coalition last year to fight for an affordable housing measure and getting the proposed $4 billion housing bond on the November ballot. He also promises to push for a $9 billion affordable housing bond measure if elected governor along with "rapid rehousing, increased state tax credits, and increased permitting."
Unlike GOP candidate Cox, though, Chiang doesn't want to get rid of all the environmental protections under CEQA. But he does say the state must "look at land use, resurrect and reimagine our redevelopment agencies, and remove the obstacles to getting housing built."
"We cannot live with half measures, and we know that for those who do have to sleep on streets or in shelters, criminalizing homelessness is not the right approach," Chiang added. "That's what both Antonio Villaraigosa and Gavin Newsom did as former mayors of Los Angeles and San Francisco, and what you can never expect from me."