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Businessman John Cox, one of two major Republicans running in the gubernatorial election to replace Gov. Jerry Brown, ripped the two-time governor for his lax immigration policies.

Brown, who has served as governor both currently and in the 1970s, recently pardoned five criminal immigrants.

John Cox of San Diego said Brown and his fellow Democrats are running California "into the ground."

"[Their] first job ought to be to keep the residents of this state safe," he said. "The voters elect their county and state officials to protect them."

Cox and State Assemblyman Travis Allen of Huntington Beach are seeking the nod on the Republican side.

Cox blasted Brown for choosing Easter weekend to make the five controversial pardons.

He said that after traveling around the state, he learned many Californians are tired of the immigration policies supported by Brown's administration.

"I think the people are going to rise up and continue this backlash through November," he said.

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