The Daily Californian Online


By Senior Editorial Board
Daily Cal Senior Staff Writer
Monday, June 7, 2010
Category: Opinion > Editorials

Gavin Newsom

When San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom was asked about the prospect of running for lieutenant governor last October, he burst out laughing. Another time he answered the question, "What does the lieutenant governor do?" by saying, "For the life of me, I don't know." The indifference is glaring.

To be fair, even reasonably aware Californians are probably going to have difficulty listing the lieutenant governor's various roles and responsibilities beyond succeeding the governor if anything should happen to him. But if one is running for an office, one is expected to know what its duties much before he declares his candidacy.

Despite his attitude, we are endorsing Gavin Newsom for the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor over Los Angeles City Councilwoman Janice Hahn. This is due to no fault of Hahn: She has expressed great enthusiasm about serving in the position's ex officio roles, which include seats on the UC Board of Regents, the CSU Board of Trustees and the State Lands Commission, which is responsible for coastal and waterway issues.

As Hahn points out, these are important responsibilities, which deserve to be taken seriously, rather than ridiculed. Indeed, it is disturbing that Newsom is primarily treating the office as a stepping stone to higher office.

On the other hand, we think that his ambition may serve him well here. The role is one where one may demonstrate their chops with oft-forgotten matters of policy. Fairly or unfairly, he has acquired a reputation as a flashy politician, often lacking substance. This role gives him an opportunity to change that image.

But the reason we are endorsing Newsom over Hahn is his executive experience as mayor of one of the most important cities in the nation. As a legislative representative of one district, Hahn's experience does not match up. The lieutenant governor is a heartbeat away from the top job. If something unfortunate were to happen, we would want the individual taking over to be as well-prepared as possible. Newsom's leadership of San Francisco, while not impeccable, gives him the edge in this regard.

For the Republican nomination, we endorse incumbent Abel Maldonado over State Senator Sam Aanestad. Aanestad's support of offshore drilling is an issue made salient both by the Gulf Coast oil spill and by the fact that the lieutenant governor seat on the State Lands Commission. Aanestad is a conservative who has been solidly opposed to compromise with Democrats on legislative matters. On the other hand, Maldonado has displayed the bipartisan attitude we need more of in Sacramento. While a fiscal conservative, he crossed party lines to close a budget gap in 2009. We think that spirit will serve him well in facilitating compromise on the many state boards on which the lieutenant governor wields influence.

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