Newsom heads to governor's race

July 1, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
San Francisco's mayor is putting an end to rumors that he wants to run for governor. Gavin Newsom has announced he is dipping his toes into the pool of candidates for the 2010 election by forming an exploratory committee.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) is barred by term limits from running again, so the race is wide open, and San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom is the first to officially announce his intentions.

"Now more than ever people want someone to take action and not just point fingers," said Mayor Newsom.

Mayor Newsom says it's not ego, nor ambition that's motivating him to run for governor. He says it's his desire to produce change beyond San Francisco.

"I hate see what we're doing on the environment and not see the rest of the state follow. You can't produce the kind of change we're passionate about, unless you can scale it," said Mayor Newsom.

By establishing an exploratory committee, Newsom can begin gathering campaign contributions and conducting polls.

It'll be two years before Californians vote for governor, but political analysts say it's important for Newsom to get his name out there.

At this point, the competition appears to be stiff. Possible candidates include former Controller Steve Westly, Lieutenant Governor John Garamendi, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Attorney General and former Governor Jerry Brown, who is able to run again because term limits took effect after he left office.

"These are heavy hitters among the Democratic Party," said political science professor Corey Cook Ph.D., from the University of San Francisco.

Professor Cook says if Newsom wants to appeal to Californians, he needs to tout his record on issues like the environment and universal health care. Most Californians know Newsom for one thing and that's allowing gays and lesbians to marry four years ago in defiance of state law.

"Part of the reason he needs to declare early is because if he's branded as a single-issue candidate that is going to play well statewide regardless of whether that issue is popular or not," said Cook.

"To me it's a foundational issue, I'm not going to back away from it. I believe in equality. So there you have it. Next question, let's talk about health care, education the environment. I want to talk about the economy, that's what I want to talk about," said Newsom.

For the people who work at City Hall, the news of Newsom's exploratory committee came as no surprise. Critics say Newsom has already been spending a lot of time outside the city fundraising.

"If he's serious about running for Governor, which apparently he is, he's going to be spending much more time in Southern California where the population centers are and that means San Francisco will suffer," said San Francisco Supervisor Chris Daly.

Mayor Newsom says he will likely decide by the end of the year whether to proceed with a full-fledged candidacy.


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