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Travis Allen, a conservative and controversial Orange County lawmaker, jumps into California governor's race

Conservative Orange County Assemblyman Travis Allen (R-Huntington Beach) is jumping into California’s 2018 race for governor, a move that could splinter the GOP vote in what promises to be a crowded and competitive race.

Travis, elected to the Legislature in 2012, said he decided to run because of the years of “wasteful spending and dictatorial policies pushed by Jerry Brown and the Sacramento Democrats.”

“I am running to be the next governor of California to take back our state for the forgotten ordinary citizens of California, who will no longer tolerate the squandering of our incredible natural abundance of people, economy, and resources by limousine liberals beholden to ravenous public sector union bosses and extremist environmentalists,” Travis said in a statement announcing his campaign.

Outspoken and controversial, Travis has filed a ballot measure to repeal the recently approved gas tax and sponsored legislation requiring voters to show photo ID.

Allen has faced criticism for claiming that a new law that barred police from arresting people under 18 for soliciting sex or loitering with intent to commit prostitution was an effort to “legalize” child prostitution. The purpose of the law was to treat minors as victims of sex trafficking rather than offenders.

Allen, 43, worked as a certified financial planner before he ran for the Legislature. His Assembly district includes all or portions of Seal Beach, Huntington Beach, Fountain Valley and Garden Grove.

Allen will face stiff competition from fellow Republican John Cox, a Rancho Santa Fe venture capitalist who already has put $3 million of his own money into his campaign. Former GOP Assemblyman David Hadley of Manhattan Beach also is exploring a run, and former Los Angeles Rams football player Rosey Grier announced plans to jump into the race but thus far has not established an official campaign.

The race also has attracted a cadre of Democratic heavyweights, including Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and state Treasurer John Chiang. Delaine Eastin, a former state legislator and state schools’ chief, is also running.

In California, Democrats hold a 19-percentage point advantage over Republicans in voter registration, a strong head wind against GOP candidates running for statewide office.

Because of the large field of Democrats in the race, a Republican could have a good shot of finishing in the top two in the June 2018 primary if they can put together GOP support. But Allen’s entry into the race could divide Republican voters, reducing the odds of a GOP candidate making it to the November general election.

The first- and second-place finishers in the primary advance to the general election regardless of their party.

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