Newsom could be headed for victory

Is Gavin Newsom headed to Sacramento in January?

Gavin Newsom seems poised to win his race for lieutenant governor, at least as indicated by his opponent Abel Maldonado's increasingly desperate campaign tactics and Newsom's string of newspaper endorsements, including the Spanish language La Opinion, which chose to pass over a moderate Latino that it has endorsed in the past. The only question now is voter turnout, and whether Newsom's negatives would be enough to drag him down if the Democratic base stays home in this lackluster election.

In its endorsement in Sunday's paper, La Opinion wrote, “We are deeply disappointed that in this election [Maldonado] has opted for an opportunistic strategy of using images of undocumented criminals to earn political points. This is unacceptable and his charges against Newsom on this issue are inaccurate.” The reference was to Maldonado's wild charges in an Oct. 15 debate that Newsom created San Francisco's sanctuary city policies and was responsible for the fatal shootings of Bologna family members, allegedly by an undocumented immigrant who had once been in city custody. The reality was that Newsom inherited the sanctuary city policy and unilaterally weakened it after the Bologna shooting, even refusing to implement legislation approved by the Board of Supervisors (which Newsom vetoed but the board overrode) to require due process before those arrested are turned over to the feds for possible deportation.

While the paper didn't seem to understand that Newsom has snubbed his nose at San Francisco progressives and petulantly fed a particularly divisive style of politics here, they do rightfully give him credit for running a complicated city, unlike the conservative city of Santa Maria where Maldonado was mayor and always did the bidding of the Chamber of Commerce, something I observed while working at the Santa Maria Times at the time. "The Democratic candidate has implemented solid, progressive management while leading a diverse city during a deep budget crisis. Newsom has proven to be creative, resourceful, and sensitive while forging alliances that improve the quality of life for his city's residents," La Opinion wrote. 

Then yesterday, as the Los Angeles Times reports on its blog, when Newsom held a campaign event trumpeting his support by Latino leaders such as Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and labor leader Dolores Huerta, Maldonado showed up and sat in the back with his advisers during the event. Now that's just strange.

A California Democratic Party e-mail blast this afternoon used a series of rhetorical questions to describe the campaign's episodes: “So was Maldonado’s bizarre behavior an egotistical attempt to intimidate other Latinos who came to the event to support Newsom? Does he feel entitled to the appointed position now that he actually has to compete for voters in a real election? Is he desperate for media attention? Or does he just enjoy being a spectator, watching his opponent secure key Latino endorsements while his own campaign falls apart?”

But the real question is whether Democrats can mobilize enough voters to overcome Newsom's negatives, from his arrogance to his personal foibles. When I did a search for Gavin Newsom's name on Yahoo, which automatically guesses what you're asking for based on past queries, the first three that listed were “Gavin Newsom girlfriend,” “Gavin Newsom divorce,” and “Gavin Newsom affair,” an apparent reference to his admitted affair with Ruby Rippey Tourk, who worked for him and was married to his reelection campaign manager.

So, if you support Newsom for this office -- or even if you're just anxious for him to leave San Francisco a year before his mayoral term expires -- don't forget to get out there and vote.