You can now safely say “former San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom.” The mayor, whose seven-year tenure included a week of overtime to get some last-minute chores done such as anointing a successor and installing a new district attorney, has left one building (City Hall) and entered another (California’s state Capitol). Like all the people of California, we wish him well in his new job, lieutenant governor.

Of course, our report that he was sworn in to the state job is hearsay. We weren’t there. We’re depending on Newsom’s Facebook status, in which he declared his intention to go through with the swearing in today, and an emailed press release from his staff that recounts a mild-sounding event earlier this afternoon. It reads in part:

“It is an honor to serve as the 49th Lieutenant Governor in the greatest state in the greatest nation in the world,” said Newsom. “At a time of great challenge, we must transform our crises into opportunities, replace old arguments with bold solutions, and reject timidity and incrementalism for risk-taking and innovation.”

Lieutenant Governor Newsom also pledged to work in close partnership with Governor Jerry Brown and legislative leaders to reform and rebuild a government that is truly worthy of California.

The inauguration ceremony included an invocation by Reverend Arturo Albano of the Mission Dolores Basilica in San Francisco and remarks by State Treasurer Bill Lockyer, Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg and Assembly Speaker John Pérez. The Presentation of the Colors was performed by the 88th Cadet Wing Honor Guard, followed by the national anthem sang by the San Francisco Boys’ Choir.

As Lieutenant Governor, Newsom plans to aggressively pursue new business and job creation, help maintain environmental leadership and retool and reboot California’s approach to workforce, in an effort to deliver the skills needed to keep the state at the center of the innovation economy.

As the latest California second-in-command, Newsom is now part of a lineage that traces its roots to the immortal (he has a Wikipedia entry) John McDougal. An official state biography recounts McDougal’s pursuit of the lieutenant governorship this way:

“At age 32, McDougal was elected to represent the Sacramento district at the Constitutional Convention in 1849. At the conclusion of the Convention, when nominated as Lt. Governor, he said, “I reckon I’ll take that. I don’t believe anyone else will have it.” Despite this less than enthusiastic entrance into politics, McDougal succeeded to the office of Governor. During his term he issued so many proclamations beginning “I, John McDougal,” that he was soon known throughout the state as “I John.” McDougal opposed legislation that would outlaw dueling. He believed that those who dueled weren’t fit to live and that by allowing them to continue to duel they would eventually kill each other off. [According to a National Governor's Association biography, McDougal himself "later was involved in two separate duels, wounding a newspaper editor in one, and getting arrested in the other."] McDougal died of apoplexy in March of 1866.”

McDougal’s real claim to fame is that he became governor himself after the first elected state governor, Peter Burnett, quit. Upon rising to the top job, McDougal approved moving the state capital from San Jose to Vallejo, approved what amounted to an extermination raid against uncooperative Native American tribes in Mariposa County, and supported excluding blacks from the state (on the other hand, he reportedly welcomed Chinese immigrants and said they “were one of the most worthy classes of our newly adopted citizens, to whom the climate and the character of California were peculiarly suited”). McDougal was also a noted bon vivant, whose enthusiasm for drinking, gambling, and quarreling are said to have brought an early end to his career in politics.

Author

Dan Brekke

Dan Brekke (Twitter: @danbrekke) has worked in media ever since Nixon's first term, when newspapers were still using hot type. He had moved on to online news by the time Bill Clinton met Monica Lewinsky. He's been at KQED since 2007, is an enthusiastic practitioner of radio and online journalism and will talk to you about absolutely anything. Reach Dan Brekke at dbrekke@kqed.org.

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