Clinton's Pick for California Governor - NBC Bay Area

Clinton's Pick for California Governor

Two Clinton-Newsom events scheduled next month in Southern California



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    Bill Clinton will reportedly back Gavin Newsom for California governor in 2010.

    Former President Bill Clinton is returning the favor of an endorsement and putting his name to work for San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom for governor.

    Newsom said he is honored to have the former president's endorsement and he thinks it is a "significant thing for our campaign."

    "I couldn't be more proud and honored to have my boy!" Newsom said Tuesday.

    The casual reference points to the relationship between the two. Their political relationship goes back to Newsom's mayoral campaign, which Clinton also supported.

    RAW VIDEO: Newsom on Clinton Endorsement

    [BAY] RAW VIDEO: Newsom on Clinton Endorsement
    Former Pres. Bill Clinton has picked his candidate for California governor.
    (Published Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2009)

    The move is not that big of a surprise when you consider Newsom's pit bull-like support of Hillary Clinton during her recent unsuccessful race for the White House. He was one of her biggest supporters.

    The endorsement could be a game changer. California's had a thing for Bill Clinton ever since he beat Jerry Brown in the 1992 presidential primary. He recieved rock star-like receptions here, even in the height of the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

    "California is still Clinton country in many ways," said state Sen. Alex Padilla, the chairman of Newsom's campaign. "We are proud supporters of Barack Obama, but we have not forgotten what the Clintons did for California."

    Clinton and Newsom will appear together at two events in Southern California in October. One is a fundraiser for the Newsom campaign.

    The delayed date could have something to do with Newsom becoming a dad. His first child is due later this month and he has publically promised to stick close to home until the little one arrives.

    "President Clinton's record of achievement as president and as a senior statesman is inspiring to all Democrats," said Newsom. "I am truly honored that he will join me in October."

    The latest poll by David Binder shows Attorney General Jerry Brown leading Newsom, even among San Franciscans, 51 percent to 34 percent.  And that is even before Brown has even officially announced he's running.

    Newsom blamed his low poll numbers because he said he doesn't have the name recognition that former governor Brown does. He says that means he needs to work harder and smarter.

    Brown also has seven times as much money in his campaign coffers.

    If Newsom is able to beat Brown on the Democratic side, he still has to face some potential tough Republican challengers.

    That list includes former Rep. Tom Campbell, Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner and former eBay CEO Meg Whitman, who has also raised millions more than Newsom.

    Each of them hopes to succeed Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who will be termed out of office in November 2010.