With sparkly white teeth and slick-backed hair, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom is among the most recognized people in Northern California.
Newsom, 42, was once considered one of the state's up-and-coming politicians and a top candidate for governor. But his gubernatorial campaign stalled at the gates last year. He dropped out of the governor's race, and, at the last minute, decided to run for lieutenant governor.
Newsom rose to national prominance in 2004, just after becoming mayor of San Francisco, when he announced he would issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. He officiated at the first wedding himself by marrying a well-known lesbian couple. The move got both him and the city of San Francisco international attention.
Newsom will face fellow democrat Los Angeles City Councilwoman Janice Hahn. The under-the-radar race pits a lifelong NoCal candidate (Newsom) against a lifelong SoCal candidate (Hahn), giving it a Giants versus Dodgers feel. Campaign records show the two roughly even when it comes to money -- Hahn with $265,000 and Newsom with $255,600 as of mid-March.
Newsom grew up in San Francisco. He graduated college from Santa Clara University in 1989 with a B.A. in political science. If he wins the election, he would likely stay in San Francisco -- the lieutenant governor does not have to live in Sacramento.
Among Newsom's endorsements are fellow political heavyweights from San Francisco, U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
The lieutenant governor has few responsibilities, but the title can become a stepping stone to the governor's seat. The lieutenant governor also serves on the California State University Board of Trustees, the governing board of the University of California Board of Regents and the State Lands Commission, which has a say over a wide array of issues, including offshore oil drilling.