Gavin Newsom tries to hew to party line, but cuts his own path on a pair of issues

Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom was looking awfully candidate-ish as he made the rounds at the Dems’ convention hall Friday afternoon. You had to pry him from activists, who flocked to him with the zeal of autograph hounds.

And no matter how much he tried to avoid straying from the party line, Newsom, whose hair was coifed up to standard and teeth looking extra-whitened, cut his own swath on a couple issues:

When asked to opine on Gov. Jerry Brown’s insistence on holding an election for new taxes, Newsom said, “I’m going to support our governor. That’s the commitment he made, he’s holding strong to that and I respect that.”

But …

“At the same time, there may come a time where even the best intentions need to be reassessed because the state will be put in a cash crisis (if the budget isn’t resolved) in a number of months. It would be perfectly acceptable if Governor Brown says, ‘OK, I’ve done everything I can. I’ve agreed to all these concessions, but I still can’t get their (Republicans’) support. I’m not going to watch higher education get devastated …”

At what point should the governor pull the trigger and drop his plan to seek a vote of the people, Newsom was asked. (left unasked — my bad — was the question of how anyone thinks Republicans will vote directly for a tax increase if they won’t even vote to allow a vote of the people on taxes).

“If we start pulling out I.O.U.s, it’s certainly self-evident. If there’s a certain point where we have a crisis of confidence. If we get close to that date, clearly something will have to give. But this should be resolved well before that.”

And …

When asked about the White House’s decision to revoke the San Francisco Chronicle’s pooling privileges (in covering President Obama on his Bay Area ATM stops), because intrepid political reporter Carla Marinucci caught on tape and then posted online video of protesters haranguing Obama at a fund-raiser, Newsom said, “I don’t want a ‘Newsom Attacks Obama headline.’

But …

“I’m such a fan of Carla — and a new media fan — I don’t think the president needs to go there.

“Especially for a newspaper that’s hardly been his chief critic. … I understand some frustration — we all do, in those private moments. But you learn quickly, we’re in a reality TV show, even when we’re taking a shower, I sometimes wonder.

“Maybe I’m so used to San Francisco. I thought that was the most benign protest I’ve been to in 15 years. I’m thinking, c’mon. And they were quite respectful. A bunch of them were giving a standing ovation at the end of the president’s speech. They only took one or two peopel out. So, I don’t know if they needed to go there.”

Hey, for a convention that was supposed to be bereft of drama, if you count Chairman John Burton’s remark that Gov. Jerry Brown should “try shooting” a Republican to get them to OK taxes, this has been a regular carnival.

Steven Harmon

  • John W

    Methinks Gavin will have difficulty rising above Lite Guv to either Guv or Senator. Read somewhere that he was contemplating a move to LA — in obvious recognition that most of the state’s population is down South. His smart move would have been to return from the trip he took to Texas with the Republicans and come out in favor of some reforms that would make CA more competitive. That would have grabbed headlines. The new addition of Businessweek has some interesting statistical comparisons between the two states on public pensions and salaries (May 2-8, pp. 25-26).

  • Ted Lawrence

    This is such nonsense, trying to appear independent by talking about issues nobody cares about. As for taxes, it’s obvious grandstanding for the reason your reporter mentions, but it sounds good to the really stupid among party activists who can’t figure it out.