The race for California’s top cop focuses on abortion, gun control and crime, but the state’s Republican governor and attorney general are also seeking higher wages for public employees. In fact, the race is on the mind of Gov. Jerry Brown (D) and his Republican opponent, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D), whose first acts upon assuming office in 2019 were to appoint the nation’s first Republican lieutenant governor and California’s first openly gay governor.
The contest in the state capital of Sacramento is one of the most watched and complicated California elections, and it promises to be among the most consequential since the end of the decade-long tenure of Gov. Jerry Brown.
As the top cop in one of America’s most densely populated and fastest-growing states, Brown has spent his entire career running his city’s government. But in the 21st century, the governor has a wide variety of issues to consider during his two-year term as governor and three years as lieutenant governor: his priorities and priorities for the state and his administration’s ability to get its fiscal house in order. For Brown in particular, it’s all about paying his bills, and now he has to decide whether he wants to try to make the state’s government more open and accessible, or more partisan.
Newsom isn’t only running for governor because he’s the first openly gay member of the California Republican Party and a staunch social conservative. In addition, as the second-longest serving governor in California’s history, he’s seeking a two-year stay of California’s state law that bans same-sex marriage. As a young lieutenant governor, he went head-to-head with his Republican predecessor, Kevin Wirth, in a controversial 2006 fight over whether the state should pass a law that would have forced businesses to provide goods and services for same-sex marriage, arguing that the bill was unconstitutional.
Newsom has been more successful than his predecessor in changing state law on marriage, but he will need to navigate that struggle with his own party. For Brown, who has been criticized for being too conservative, Newsom has been labeled too liberal, and he’s run a campaign on the strength of being able to run for re-election as a moderate.
Here’s a look at how