Lieutenant Governor Race Could be a Preview of California's Future

By Sajid Farooq
|  Tuesday, Nov 2, 2010  |  Updated 9:49 PM PDT
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Lt. Governor Race Could be a Preview of California's Future

AP

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, seeking the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor, celebrates his projected primary victory on Tuesday, June 8, 2010, in San Francisco. Early returns showed Newsom defeating Los Angeles City Councilwoman Janice Hahn.

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There is one San Francisco native who doesn't have time to get wrapped up in Giants' hysteria.

Mayor Gavin Newsom is a lifelong Giants' fan, who has been known to frequent the ballpark during the good times and the bad times.

Complete Coverage: Decision 2010

But a day after the team brought the first World Series title ever to the City by the bay, Newsom was hoping to catch a bad case of victory fever instead of Giants' fever.

The liberal Democrat managed to throw a party for his hometown heroes Tuesday and he had another one planned for Wednesday but Tuesday is all about Newsom's political future.

The mayor is in a tight race for California lieutenant governor with Republican incumbent Abel Maldonado. Two men who once were, and quite possibly again, are seen as rising stars within their respective parties.

Newsom had his sights set on a higher state office but ultimately his campaign for governor was derailed by low funding and quite possibly an image problem.

In the cozy confines of San Francisco, Newsom may not be seen as liberal enough but across the state, and even the nation, the mayor is known as the politician who defied an edict and married same-sex couples.

Whether he likes it or not, Newsom has become the poster boy for what's wrong with the Democratic party in some Republican circles. And the party has used that to push Maldonado up in more conservative pockets outside the Bay Area.

But that's why a stint as lieutenant governor may be the perfect resting spot for a politician who just a few short years ago was considered a rising star in the Democratic party before his career was came off the hinges -- albeit temporarily -- by personal scandal.

Many pundits consider the lieutenant governor position to be a natural stepping stone to the governor's seat or even a national Senate bid.

If Jerry Brown is able to fend off Meg Whitman, Newsom could remold himself as a young family man waiting in line to succeed the Democratic throne from the 72-year-old former mayor of Oakland. Brown would be 76 when his second and final term ended if elected.

But Maldonado is not going to give up the mantle of the lieutenant governor without a fight. The Republican incumbent has aspirations of political grandeur much like his slick haired opponent.

The two have gone at each other in debates and Newsom and Maldonado have not been shy to release new as well.

Like Newsom, Maldonado could also benefit from either Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman winning Tuesday, although he would most likely have to wait eight years to make a run for governor if she won, and he also stands to gain if Brown wins Tuesday.

The current lieutenant governor could use another four years in his current position to prepare himself for a step up to a corner office in Sacramento.

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