Gavin Newsom, the former two-term San Francisco mayor and Lieutenant Governor, has been projected to become the 39th governor of California, with the Associated Press and other outlets calling the race.
The 51-year-old Newsom was cruising to victory during Tuesday’s midterm elections by a robust margin over his opponent, Republican John Cox. Newsom was the frontrunner from Day One but seemed resolute to wage a full campaign and presented the image of energized candidate throughout — even launching his third bus tour of the campaign just last Tuesday.
With 19% of the polls reporting, according to the AP, Newsom was declared the winner in a romp with 56.3% of votes compared to Cox’s 43.7%. The victory makes Newsom the political leader of the world’s fifth largest economy and positions him to raise the stakes in his opposition of President Donald J. Trump. During his campaign, Newsom mentioned Trump so often that an inattentive voter might have expected to see Trump — and not Cox — listed as the Democrat’s opponent on Tuesday’s gubernatorial ballot.
Newsom has been a favorite of Hollywood during much his ascent through the state political scene, which began in 2004 when he was the fresh-faced, newly elected mayor of San Francisco. His election will safeguard the inroads made this summer by Gov. Jerry Brown when he signed a five-year extension of California’s film incentives program. That move was framed as an $1.65 billion increase in incentives available to qualified film and TV shows shot in the state.
Despite that extension through 2025, the Golden State lags far behind rival regions (among them Georgia, Canada and New Mexico) in attracting the big-budget tentpole films that represent huge infusions of money and work. Hollywood likely has Newsom’s ear, too, after high-profile support from Tinseltown and powerful industry supporters such as Kathleen Kennedy, J.J. Abrams, Donna Langley, Jeffrey Katzenberg and Ron Meyer.
For Cox, the gubernatorial race was a steep, uphill slog but the same could be said of any Republican running for the statehouse considering the 20% edge Democrats possess among the West Coast state’s registered voters. Still, the cautious Newsom seemed skeptical that any solid ground in politics could be completely trusted after the seismic upheaval of 2016 and the election of Trump.
“You sleep with one eye open this late in the campaign,” Newsom recently told the Los Angeles Times. “My staff wishes I would enjoy this moment more. I’m anxious, always, because there’s a lot at stake.”
Newsom in his campaign positioned himself as a strong proponent of untangling immigration issues, legalizing marijuana and prioritizing renewable energies.
Also in California tonight, Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein — another former San Francisco mayor — was projected to win her race to return to the U.S. Senate for her sixth term.
The Democrats’ taking over the House nationwide tonight means another California Democrat, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, will retain her post of Speaker.