The California governor’s race always seemed destined to be a snoozer. But wait one minute. Could it get interesting?

Well, at least a couple of Republicans seem to think it might. Karl Rove and Newt Gingrich have taken an interest in the race since two polls last month showed that Republican John Cox had slipped into second place in one survey and third place in the other. The way the state’s system works is that the top two vote-getters in the June 5 primary advance to the general election, regardless of party. That means if Cox’s polling solidifies a bit more, a Republican would appear on the statewide ballot this fall.

Of course, your first assumption is that any Republican would get trounced in California, where they spray for Republicans in many parts. But on the other hand – and this is where the GOP takes heart – there are several examples where voters, feeling their government has swung too far in one direction, elect the rival party as a counterweight.

Rove, appearing Fox Business News last week, put it this way: “We could have (in California) what we’ve seen on the East Coast where in deep blue states like Massachusetts or New Jersey or Maryland, voters say, ‘You know, we need to have an adult serving as a restraint on the worst impulses of the Democrats.’” (Rove failed to mention Illinois, another liberal state that elected a Republican governor four years ago.)

But could that really happen in California, which arguably is the bluest of the blue? Gingrich implied in an op-ed that some moderate-to-liberal-leaning Californians feel the state has veered too far left and if enough of them pinch their nose and vote for the Republican – not because they love him but because they want him to be Mr. Veto – then the outcome could be surprising.

The probability of a Republican governor being elected in California? Feels very slim to me. But at least the governor’s race may not be the snoozer it appeared destined to be.