7 things to know about Gavin Newsom, California’s new governor

November 7, 2018

7 things to know about Gavin Newsom, California’s new governor

By Abby Hamblin
The San Diego Union-Tribune
November 7, 2018

Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom has been elected governor of California, according to news outlets who called the race and his opponent, San Diego businessman John Cox, who conceded Tuesday night.)

No surprise there.

It’s a result that was expected when Newsom advanced to a runoff election against Republican John Cox, a San Diego businessman who was endorsed by President Donald Trump in an overwhelmingly blue state.

Newsom’s resume and journey through California politics are both long, but now that he’s won the right to succeed Gov. Jerry Brown in early January, here’s what you need to know about California’s next governor.

Who is Gavin Newsom?

Gavin Newsom, 51, is a Democrat from the San Francisco Bay Area. He graduated from Santa Clara University after studying political science and then launched a successful business career.

His entrepreneurial success spans wineries, restaurants, hotels and other upscale businesses. It started with San Francisco’s PlumpJack Wines and expanded to the PlumpJack Group, where he remains a partner but has handed off leadership to his sister, Hilary Newsom.

He began his public service career in 1996 on San Francisco’s Parking and Traffic Commission and followed that into a position on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. He served there until 2004, when he became Mayor of San Francisco. Newsom was elected lieutenant governor in 2010 and re-elected to the post in 2014.

He lives in Marin County with his wife and four children.

What are some of his political highlights?

As mayor of San Francisco in 2004, Newsom made headlines worldwide for his decision to allow same-sex marriages while pointing to California’s anti-discrimination laws. The state’s Supreme Court nullified the thousands of marriages that occurred shortly thereafter, but the U.S. Supreme Court eventually made same-sex marriages a right nationwide in 2015.

Newsom focused much of his time on homelessness and health care during his time as mayor, emphasizing services for homeless individuals, though his success doing so was mixed.

An advocate for recreational and medical marijuana, Newsom led the campaign for Proposition 64 — which voters approved in 2016 to make recreational marijuana use legal in California 20 years after the electorate embraced medical marijuana. In 2016, Newsom also successfully pushed for the passage of Proposition 63, which requires background checks for ammunition purchases and bans possession of large-capacity magazines.

What made him want to run for governor?

Newsom told The San Diego Union-Tribune that public service is his “why” in life saying, “standing up for ideals, striking out against injustice, has been the cause of my life.”

When announcing his campaign in 2015, he said he would emphasize income inequality, climate change and workforce development.

What was his path to victory?

Newsom faced a crowded field of candidates in the primary election including former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and state Treasurer John Chiang, both Democrats. Newsom finished in first place with 33.7 percent of the vote, followed by his general election opponent Republican John Cox with 25.4 percent. Villaraigosa lagged far behind both, with 13.3 percent of the vote.

What are his political priorities?

His campaign website lists his top priorities as economic development, education, protecting the environment and justice.

As mayor, Newsom helped create one of the nation’s first city-wide universal health care initiative, and he wants to see a similar program established for the entire state. Newsom also believes in universal preschool and two free years of community college tuition.

Here’s how he described his agenda after sailing to victory in the primary:

“Guaranteed health care for all. A ‘Marshall Plan’ for affordable housing. A master plan for aging with dignity. A middle-class workforce strategy. A cradle-to-college promise for the next generation. An all-hands approach to ending child poverty.”

His progressive plans for the state also include continuing its push toward 100 percent renewable energy and protecting California’s unauthorized immigrants and sanctuary policies.

What’s his outlook on the Trump administration?

Trump and Newsom have already begun trading insults, with Newsom taking to his Twitter account to consistently push back on the president and his administration’s policies.

The San Diego Union-Tribune asked him how he plans to work with the administration, and this is how he replied:

“Issue by issue, I don’t wake up every day thinking about Donald Trump, but he seems to think about this state as a punching bag, a sparring partner and when…, you know, and so you can roll over, you can capitulate or you can push back. I prefer the pushback, but when he’s right, he’s right. He supports real infrastructure investment, let’s celebrate that. He has a strong economic and workforce development strategy that we can all embrace. He has ways to improve the North American Free Trade Agreement and Central America Free Trade Agreement and you know other, you know, he pulls a rabbit out of his hat on the Trans-Pacific Partnership and somehow it’s going to aid and abet the world’s sixth-largest economy, number one port-based economy, then I’m all ears. But when he attacks our diverse communities and our values and our clean air, clean water programs, auto emissions strategies, I think we’re right to push back. That said, I give him credit when he you know, we celebrated, he did the right thing on Orville Dam, and the emergency declarations down here in Ventura and up north in Santa Rosa. … At the end of the day we’re all in this together … My intention is not to wake up every day attacking him, but I have no trepidation… If you follow my social media, if you haven’t looked, trust me I’m not exaggerating. No problem pushing back.”

What are some other interesting facts about him?

  • Newsom is dyslexic and has been very open in sharing details about his experience.
  • He played baseball at Santa Clara University for two years.
  • He authored a book titled “Citizenville: How to Take the Town Square Digital and Reinvent Government.”
  • He had his own television program, “The Gavin Newsom Show,” which included interviews with guests like Elon Musk, Oliver Stone and Lance Armstrong.

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