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Republicans Abel Maldonado and Tim Donnelly in Fierce Contest for Right to Lose to Jerry Brown

Abel Maldonado during a recent trip to Honduras
Abel Maldonado during a recent trip to Honduras
Maldonado for Governor

Two new polls are out today in the California governor's race, and they show a fierce battle between Abel Maldonado and Tim Donnelly for the right to lose to Jerry Brown.


In the Field Poll, Brown holds sway with 52 percent of registered voters. Moderate Republican Abel Maldonado squeaks into second with 11 percent, just ahead of Tea Partier Tim Donnelly at 9 percent.

But there's better news for Donnelly in the poll from the Public Policy Institute of California...

In that poll, which looks only at likely June voters, Brown is out front with 46 percent of the vote. Donnelly comes in second with 16 percent of the vote, and Maldonado is third with 7 percent.

For the first time, the state is electing a governor using the "top-two" primary system, in which the two top finishers in the June primary advance to the November general election regardless of party.

The theory was that this would be a moderating force in state politics, though it hasn't really worked out that way yet in practice. Moderate Maldonado is probably the best possible test case for this theory, as he is the one who single-handedly brought the top-two primary into being.

If he can't beat Donnelly, the no-apologies Tea Party guy, then it may be time to declare this experiment a failure.