As a San Francisco native, I can’t deny my bias towards supporting Gavin Newsom in the 2010 gubernatorial race. From his unwavering support of gay rights — which many consider this generation’s civil rights movement — to his undeniable youthful appeal (he tweeted during his daughter’s birth — seriously), Newsom had me at “state bankruptcy.”
And aside from his over-greased coif, Newsom, 42, seemed like a lock for the governor’s title. Or at least he did until the numbers came in.
By the end of October, Newsom found himself behind California Attorney General Jerry Brown 8-to-1 in campaign fundraising, and 20 points behind him in the polls — all before Brown ever formally announced his candidacy.
Though support for Newsom failed to expand substantially beyond the Bay Area bubble, there has been no denying his appeal to young voters. This was the sector of California Newsom was depending on to donate to his campaign and to dominate the polls.
Unfortunately, we weren’t enough to sustain a healthy campaign, and on Oct. 30, Newsom publicly announced he was withdrawing from the gubernatorial race, citing the demands and responsibilities of having a family and the subsequent impossibility of committing the “time required to complete this effort the way it needs to — and should be — done.”
Our generation may be out of luck when it comes to flexing our Newsom-loving muscle, but this setback in potential political name recognition shouldn’t hinder us from remaining informed and active in state elections.
Fiscal crisis, financial meltdown — there are many “F-words” that could be engaged to describe California’s current state of affairs. From the large-scale bankruptcy we face (really, has there ever been a more literal example of a crisis than the great state-sponsored garage sale this past summer?), to the deterioration of our very own campus and the other campuses within our system.
Losing Newsom shouldn’t mean the end of our political drive. California is in dire need of reassessment, and that begins at the very top.
Over the last 67 years, California has only had three Democratic governors: Pat Brown from 1959-1967, his son Jerry from 1975-1983, and Jerry’s Chief of Staff-turned-Governor, Gray Davis, from 1999-2003.
As many Californians — and history — can attest, the Brown name brings with it dreamy nostalgia for the Golden State of yesteryear. The Browns are just about the closest thing California has to its own Kennedy family, minus the scandal and sex appeal. And while former president Ronald Reagan infamously denied Pat Brown a third term, Jerry has the potential for a second chance, granting California the same.
Brown’s present lead in polls, support and donations are said to be a large intimidation factor for all who dare run against him. Now, as the potential sole Democratic candidate, Brown’s momentum can only grow from here.
Though Newsom is now out of the running, young Californians need to get educated about other candidates, support those who understand our needs, sustain interest in our election, and stand for the state that has the potential for rebirth.
Newsom’s departure from the race takes with it the kind of celebreality association the Obama administration has now become known for, but perhaps his absence will allow for a larger reflection on California’s political infrastructure. And if a return to California’s roots is what we desire, the return of the Jerry Brown may be just what we need.
The young Californians who found renewed interest in state politics when Newsom stepped into the mix should continue that interest and that passion in our state’s future. The future viability of California will depend on the work of whoever is willing and able to take on the necessary reconstruction of our precious state.
Though Newsom may be gone, we can still complete this effort the way it needs to — and should be — done.