California Nation

‘Be ambitious’: California Democrats see Gavin Newsom as a sign to move further left

The California State Capitol building from the Tower Bridge in Sacramento in 2013.
The California State Capitol building from the Tower Bridge in Sacramento in 2013. Sacramento Bee file

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From paid family leave to a $15 minimum wage, California Democrats have led the nation on pushing several progressive policies into law.

With Gov. Jerry Brown out of office and Gavin Newsom at the helm, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon sees an opportunity for the state to move even further to the left.

“There’s a lot about Gavin that has people excited, and that’s a good thing,” Rendon said in a recent interview with The Sacramento Bee’s California Nation podcast.

At the beginning of the year, Rendon said he met with progressive groups and offered them a simple message: “Be ambitious.”

“We have a progressive governor and we have a progressive legislature,” Rendon said. “We have 61 Democrats, and my message to them was we don’t run elections so that we can look at the scoreboard and be proud of the numbers we have. We run elections to make good policy that has an impact on peoples’ lives. I think the governor’s certainly part of that equation.”

The leader of the Assembly also said he sees an opportunity to push bolder policies that run counter to what he’s seeing nationally under President Donald Trump.

“Donald Trump influences elections,” Rendon said. “He’s been helpful in getting Democrats elected not only here but nationally, too. That naturally influences the policy that comes out of this building.”

Fellow Democrats Assemblyman Todd Gloria, Sen. Ben Allen, Sen. Bob Hertzberg, Sen. Connie Leyva and Sen. Hannah Beth-Jackson also spoke with the California Nation podcast and highlighted some of the most progressive policies that have come out of California in the last decade.

Reporter Hannah Wiley also highlighted a new batch of left-leaning bills being considered at the Capitol.

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Bryan Anderson is a political reporter for The Bee. He covers the California Legislature and reports on wildfires and transportation. He also hosts The Bee’s “California Nation” podcast.
Hannah Wiley joined The Bee as a legislative reporter in 2019. She produces the morning newsletter for Capitol Alert and previously reported on immigration, education and criminal justice. She’s a Chicago-area native and a graduate of Saint Louis University and Northwestern.