Capitol Alert

Get to know your new governor: 9 things about Gavin Newsom

On Jan. 7, 2019, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom will be sworn as California’s 40th governor.

Newsom, who will inherit his office from fellow Democrat Jerry Brown, enjoys widespread name recognition across the Golden State and nationwide.

But here are some things you might not know about him.

He was diagnosed with dyslexia at a young age

Newsom struggled as a student and was diagnosed with dyslexia when he was 5 years old.

Newsom is one of several politicians and public figures listed on The Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity as a success story.

He had athletic aspirations

Newsom was a gifted baseball player, and he attended Santa Clara University on a partial baseball scholarship, despite his learning disability.

But it wasn’t just baseball that got him into college; Newsom received a letter of recommendation from none other than Jerry Brown.

“I literally got into Santa Clara University exclusively because of my athletic abilities playing baseball,” Newsom said at a meeting of the University of California Board of Regents. “I don’t think I broke 1,000 on my SAT.” Except for Gov. Jerry Brown, who provided a letter of recommendation for him, Newsom said, “there wasn’t much expectation that I’d get into any university.”

He had an affair while he was mayor of San Francisco.

In 2007, it came to light that Newsom had an affair with the wife of his campaign manager and best friend.

“Sometimes people make mistakes in their lives and you then work hard never to make them again, because you learn from them,” he told The Sacramento Bee. “I’ve never made them again and I’ve learned from it, and it led ultimately to falling in love with Jen,” Newsom said, referring to his wife, Jennifer Siebel Newsom.

His ex-wife is now dating Donald Trump Jr.

Newsom’s ex-wife, Kimberly Guilfoyle, is now dating Donald Trump Jr., who is a vocal supporter of his father’s agenda though he has no formal role within the administration.

Guilfoyle, too, is a Trump booster — she is vice-chair of the super PAC America First Action. Newsom acknowledged that his ex’s relationship is awkward, but said he wishes them both well, The Mercury News reported.

Before he was a politician, he was a businessman.

Newsom is a multimillionaire whose PlumpJack Group has opened 23 businesses with 800 employees across California. He often partnered with the billionaire Getty family, with which he has close ties.

Newsom’s ties to the Gettys provided fodder for his opponents in both the primary and general elections.

A website from the campaign of Newsom’s Republican gubernatorial opponent John Cox wrote that “It is safe to say that without the Gettys, there would be no Gavin.”

He is rumored to have presidential ambitions.

That anti-Trump platform will come in handy if Newsom decides one day to run for president.

Newsom certainly strikes the look of a man who wants to be president; he was described in a recent New Yorker profile as “tall and lithe and still boyish at fifty-one, with teeth that Tom Cruise would envy and hair lacquered with Oribe gel.”

If he were to be elected, he would be the third president to hail from California but the first Democrat. California’s last two presidential contributions were Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon. Of course, if he runs in 2020 he could face stiff competition from a fellow California Democrat: U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris is widely considered to be a potential candidate.

For what it’s worth, Newsom said in an interview with KQED that there is “no way” he will run for president in 2020.

He championed same-sex marriage when it wasn’t popular.

When he was mayor of San Francisco, Newsom stepped onto the national stage in 2004 when, in defiance of both state and federal law, he ordered city recorders to issue marriage certificates to same-sex couples. It would be more than 10 years before the U.S. Supreme Court made same-sex marriage the law of the land.

He wasn’t always a liberal hero.

When he was appointed to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1997, Newsom was considered a moderate “dogmatic fiscal conservative and social liberal.”

A review by the Sacramento Bee found that Newsom has since shifted to the left on several issues.

PolitiFact says he tells the truth. Most of the time.

Nonpartisan factchecker PolitiFact has found that Newsom generally sticks to the truth when he talks.

PolitiFact found that 68 percent of the Newsom statements they evaluated were either “True” or “Mostly True,” while 21 percent of his statements were rated “False” or “Mostly False.”

Newsom has no statements rated “Pants on Fire,” a classification PolitiFact reserves for the boldest misstatements.

Andrew Sheeler: 805-781-7934, @andrewsheeler
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