Not that it was any secret in political circles, but Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom made it official on Wednesday morning: He’s running for governor in 2018.
“I make this promise — this won’t be an ordinary campaign,” wrote Newsom on his Facebook page. “But, then again, California has always been an extraordinary place.”
Newsom’s announcement comes in the middle of a fascinating winter for California political watchers, where leading Democrats have begun openly jockeying for high-profile positions that will be vacant in the next two statewide election cycles.
It began with the decision last month by Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer to not seek re-election next year. Newsom passed on that race, while state Attorney General Kamala Harris decided to take the plunge. Other Democrats, most notably former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, are still pondering a campaign.
Newsom had made it clear he wants to be governor when Jerry Brown is forced from office by term limits in 2018, and the Facebook declaration was probably about money as much as anything. One source close to Newsom said that potential donors have already been approaching the 47-year-old Democrat and former San Francisco mayor about 2018, but that Newsom couldn’t raise money for that effort without formally opening an exploratory committee.
“The reality of running for governor — even four years from now — in America’s largest, most diverse state demands that I start raising resources now, if we’re going to lead a conversation worthy of the 38 million people who live, work, attend school and raise families in the Golden State,” Newsom wrote in his Facebook announcement.
The list of potential gubernatorial candidates could easily grow large, and so Newsom also may benefit in both the PR and fundraising worlds by making his intentions known so early. On the Democratic side, that could include prominent Californians like wealthy environmental activist Tom Steyer, the aforementioned Villaraigosa or a number of Democrats from the state’s congressional delegation who have long mused about running. Republicans for the job could include Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer or even 2014 candidate Neel Kashkari.
Those with a sharp memory will recollect that this isn’t Newsom’s first bid for the state’s top job. He briefly ran a campaign for governor in 2010 but dropped out early rather than face off against the more politically powerful Brown.