Election Endorsements

Endorsement: Newsom is best choice for lieutenant governor

It’s safe to assume that when they were little boys, neither Democrat Gavin Newsom nor Republican Ron Nehring dreamed of becoming lieutenant governor.

California voters won’t rush to the polls to vote for either man, though both are thoughtful.

Nehring talks earnestly of using the position to help the state’s economy. Lt. Gov. Newsom did the same early in his tenure. As Newsom found, however, a lieutenant governor has as much power as the governor grants, and Jerry Brown doesn’t cede much.

Nehring’s opposition to marijuana legalization has appeal, while Newsom is the most prominent supporter of legalization. Nehring urges the California Republican Party to reach out to Latinos and immigrants, important if California ever is to become a two-party state again. But Nehring’s conservative views on abortion, same-sex marriage and gun control don’t mesh with most Californians.

Although the lite governor has little power, whoever holds it is first in line to replace a governor who becomes incapacitated. Newsom’s views are more closely aligned with most Californians. For that reason, we endorse Newsom.

As lieutenant governor, Newsom probably has done as much as he can do, which isn’t much. He attends UC regents and California State University trustee meetings, and is involved in State Lands Commission issues.

He speaks out, voicing his opposition to Brown’s proposed high-speed rail project. He also traveled to Texas to meet with Gov. Rick Perry about the rival state’s economic development, which helps explain why Brown makes sure Newsom has little to do.

Newsom has ambitions for higher office. There’s nothing wrong with that. If he wins re-election, however, we hope he uses the office as more than a tax-funded campaign operation.

Newsom has said candidates for lieutenant governor should run on tickets with gubernatorial candidates. That would require a constitutional amendment. He could work on that in his spare time.