Gavin Newsom made a national name for himself as mayor of San Francisco when he endorsed gay marriage, going against the federal government and his own Democratic Party. Then he became California’s lieutenant governor, a position that has given him little authority but plenty of time to prepare for the job he wants next: governor.
The New York Times spoke with Newsom in a series of interviews on his campaign bus. Below are several outtakes, which have been lightly edited and condensed.
Q: How do you answer the question of whether California is a success or failure?
A: It has been a success — an extraordinary success. Gov. Jerry Brown’s model of not being profligate but progressive is a new model for Democrats.
There’s a growing anxiety of how we measure economic prosperity, and California is a poster child for why that’s a legitimate debate. Service economy, low-wage workers working full time without workers comp benefits, uninsured — that’s where we are struggling.
We have these high-wage, high-skill jobs. And then you have a third of the population — I’m loosely defining a third, not for PolitiFact purposes — that are working full time and are around the poverty rate.
Q: Gay marriage is the issue you are most identified with. Do you consider that your singular achievement?
A: It’s a point of pride to have been associated with that movement. Everyone was running. That was lonely, but it shapes my frustrations with my own party, my willingness to be independent of my own party. The fact that I survived that — I wasn’t sure I was going to.
Q: Do you see yourself like Gov. Brown as being a national figure for Democrats?
A: To the extent you have this extraordinary bully pulpit, because California punches above its weight. So it matters what Gov. Brown says. It’s always mattered what governors said in the past. You can move markets. The obvious proof point is the automobile industry.
I think that’s an extraordinary gift of this position. Not just resisting Trump and Trumpism, but helping shape the conversation. Immigration has got to be one of them.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.
Tim Arango and Inyoung Kang © 2018 The New York Times