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S.F. Mayor Newsom enters governor's race

April 21, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom announced his candidacy for governor of California Tuesday. The 41-year-old Democrat, who will be seeking his party's nomination to succeed Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, is currently in his second term as mayor.Newsom notably used the social networking sites Twitter and Facebook to make the announcement, issuing a statement that read, in part, "We can't keep returning to the same old tired solutions and expect a different result."

That statement seemed to echo a prominent theme in President Barack Obama's successful campaign last year, and Newsom addressed the comparison in an interview with the Associated Press: "There will be questions nationally -- is change an affectation of the personality of Barack Obama and is it exclusive to Washington, D.C., and the occupant of the White House? Or is that change, that generational mind-set, going to take shape across the rest of the nation, starting with the most populous state?"

Newsom already has considerable name recognition statewide, in large part because of his decision, in 2004, to order San Francisco agencies to issues marriage licenses to same-sex couples. While that proved popular in San Francisco, many political analysts believe it could hurt him in a statewide race, given that Californians last year approved Prop 8, changing the state constitution to prohibit same-sex marriage. A video clip of Newsom saying, in reference to gay marriage, "It's going to happen, whether you like it or not," was used extensively in TV ads by supporters of Prop 8.

In his interview with the AP, Newsom acknowledged, "I'm socially progressive, no doubt about that." But in order to broaden his appeal, he said he planned to present himself as a politician who has focused on "sound fiscal policy," and to stress his career as a businessman. Before becoming mayor, he started a wine store which he expanded into several restaurants.

Other Democrats who have been mentioned as possible candidates in next year's gubernatorial primary include Attorney General and former Governor Jerry Brown, Lt. Gov. John Garamendi, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, and U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein. Newsom has said he would drop out of the race if Feinstein decided to run, but only if she makes her announcement soon.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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