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3 things to listen for at the gubernatorial town hall Saturday

(Left to right, top to bottom) 2018 gubernatorial candidates Travis Allen, John Chiang, John Cox, Delaine Eastin, Gavin Newsom, Antonio Villaraigosa.
(Left to right, top to bottom) 2018 gubernatorial candidates Travis Allen, John Chiang, John Cox, Delaine Eastin, Gavin Newsom, Antonio Villaraigosa.

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Six major gubernatorial candidates will meet in a town hall at USC's Bovard Auditorium Saturday. Though there have been candidate forums in the past, Saturday's event will be the first time the candidates have faced each other in public to answer questions.

They are:

The event will air live on KPCC and will be streamed at

Whomever takes on the job will be tasked with leading the nation's most populous state at a pivotal point in its history. Among the issues likely to come across the future governor's table: healthcare, housing, and homelessness, the gas tax, immigration, disaster relief, and the state's fraught relationship with the White House. 

Here's what KPCC's reporters will be listening for:

Michelle Faust, healthcare reporter: Details

  • I'm going to be looking for details. If they are supporters of single payer, exactly what is that supposed to look like? There are many types of single payer. Every country that has a single payer or different type of universal healthcare system, they do it a little bit differently. So, how would California do that? And then — of course — how would we pay for it?
  • When we look at how would we pay for healthcare systems, CHIP — the Children's Health Insurance Program at the federal level — still hasn't been renewed. What would happen if that isn't renewed or continues to have a shortfall in California? 
  • Cost of Medi-Cal — How will California deal with any changes to the federal funding mechanism for the program? 
  • What do they see as the future for Covered California?

Mary Plummer, senior politics reporter: Outshining Newsom

I'm interested to watch how the candidates will be going after frontrunner Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom. John Chiang recently changed his strategy; he had an attack website up that was specifically targeting Newsom that he recently took down. It will be interesting to see how the candidates position themselves. How they go after the frontrunner, who's been running in this race for a very, very long time. 

Josie Huang, reporter: Standout housing ideas

  • Everybody on the stage tomorrow — Republicans and Democrats — will all agree that runaway housing costs are dragging down the state. I want to see who's going to make the most compelling case to fix this seemingly intractable problem because the solutions that are being touted out there related to zoning and building density, these are kind of wonky issues. I'm wondering how they're going to sell the voters on their plans. 
  • Also, the two Dems who are talking the most about housing — Chiang and Newsom — I'm wondering how they're going to distinguish themselves from one another. Especially Chiang, who needs to make an impression and gain some ground on frontrunner Newsom.

Answers have been edited for clarity.