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Name: Newsom, Gavin
Current Position: Lieutenant Governor

Business entrepreneur and former San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom has served as lieutenant governor since 2011, after defeating Republican incumbent Abel Maldonado.

Newsom graduated from Santa Clara University with a bachelor's degree in political science in 1989. After stints as a salesperson and real estate assistant, he opened a wine store, PlumpJack, in 1992 with help from a family friend. Gordon Getty—an heir to the Getty fortune who went to school with Newsom’s father, retired state appellate Judge Bill Newsom—and his son Billy was among a group of investors who backed a number of Newsom’s early ventures. PlumpJack was named after an opera written by the senior Getty. The business has since expanded to include multiple stores, restaurants, hotels and wineries.

Newsom’s political career began in 1996 when San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown appointed him to the Parking and Traffic Committee. The next year, when Kevin Shelley left the Board of Supervisors for a seat in the state Assembly, Brown elevated Newsom to the post. Newsom was elected in 1998 and reelected in 2000 and 2002.

As supervisor, Newsom created the Care Not Cash program, which greatly reduced direct assistance checks to the homeless in favor of funding shelters and other services. While approved by voters in 2002, the program remains controversial. Reforms were discussed as recently as 2011.

In 2004, at the age of 36, Gavin Newsom started his first term as mayor of San Francisco. After just over a month in office, Newsom ordered the city-county clerk to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, in defiance of state law. The directive gained national attention, and is still the action for which Newsom is best known. The state Supreme Court annulled the marriages later that year.

Scandal hit Newsom in 2007, when his 2005 affair with Ruby Rippey-Tourk came to light. Rippey-Tourk was Newsom's appointments secretary at the time of the relationship, and her husband, Alex Tourk, was Newsom's longtime friend and aide. After learning about the affair, Tourk resigned from Newsom's campaign and filed for divorce. Newsom apologized and went into treatment for alcohol abuse.

Newsom's reelection bid that year was a success. In 2009, he declared his intention to run for governor, but polled badly against Jerry Brown and withdrew. Asked if he'd consider the lieutenant governorship, Newsom said, “What does the lieutenant governor do? For the life of me, I don't know.” (Since one of his first jobs was interning in Lieutenant Governor Leo McCarthy's office, his comment should presumably not be taken literally.)

Newsom later changed his mind and won the office. As lieutenant governor, he created a jobs plan that received praise but no follow-up. He has been a vocal opponent of tuition increases for higher education. And he joined in the call for Fish and Game Commission Chairman Dan Richards to resign after shooting a mountain lion on a (legal) hunt in Idaho.

Newsom has also been open about his strained, or at least cool, relationship with Governor Brown. He has suggested that the two officers should run on one ticket in the future, making the vice-executive “truly a lieutenant.”

Newsom receives strong financial support from unions and the healthcare and entertainment industries. He's donated about $20,000 to Democratic candidates and groups since 1997. Along with Attorney General Kamala Harris and Controller John Chiang, he's seen as a likely candidate for governor after Brown leaves office.

In 2012, Newsom announced that he would host a weekly television news talk show on Current TV. He's pledged to donate his salary from the left-leaning cable channel to charity.

Newsom is married to Jennifer Siebel Newsom, creator of the documentary Miss Representation, which addresses media representation of and political representation by women. They have two young children.


About Gavin Newsom (Lieutenant Governor's website)

PlumpJack Hospitality Group

Society Pals' Falling Out Affects Newsom, Getty Families (by Phillip Matier and Andrew Ross, San Francisco Chronicle)

Ballot Measure to Gut Care Not Cash Pulled (by Heather Knight and John Coté, San Francisco Chronicle)

Aide Quits as Newsom’s Affair with His Wife Is Revealed (by Phil Matier, Andrew Ross and Cecilia M. Vega, San Francisco Chronicle)

Newsom Seeks Treatment for Alcohol Abuse (by Heather Knight, Cecilia M. Vega and Phillip Matier, San Francisco Chronicle)

Shocker: Gavin Newsom Doesn't Know What Lt. Governor Does! (by Will Harper, SF Weekly)

Gavin Newsom's Evolving Image Includes Father, Family Man (by Cindy Baker, Capitol Weekly)

Gavin Newsom Seeks to Get Along While Awaiting His Shot at Jerry Brown's Job (by David Siders, Sacramento Bee)

Newsom Seeks to Harness Energy of Student Protests (by Jennifer Gollan and Gerry Shih, The Bay Citizen)

The Heat Is on California Official Who Killed Cougar to Step Down (by Scott Sterling, KPCC blog)

Gavin Newsom, a Lieutenant Who Thinks He's General (by Debra Saunders, Real Clear Politics)

Current TV to Hire Gavin Newsom, California's Lieutenant Governor (by Brian Stelter, New York Times)

Jennifer Siebel Newsom (Lieutenant Governor's website)

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