Leader of liberal America- CalMatters

In brief

After leading the “March for Democracy” on the second anniversary of the US Capitol uprising, Gavin Newsom portrayed himself as a partisan warrior on the national stage, but a loner in California in his second speech.

As the sun finally broke after days of brutal rainstorms across Northern California, Gov. Gavin Newsom today across the Sacramento Tower Bridge and towards the state Capitol in hopes of a second term that could establish him as the leader not only of the state but of liberal America.

Along with his family, state legislators, union members and other supporters, Newsom aimed to draw a peaceful — if overtly political — contrast to the “ugliness that spilled over on Jan. 6, 2021,” as the governor said in his inaugural address later, when supporters of then-President Donald Trump stormed the US Capitol in an attempt to overturn the election results.

“In order to achieve equal belonging and justice, California must be an enduring proof of concept,” Newsom said. “We have to fix our shortcomings. Bring everyone in our prosperity. After all, a healthy democracy must be inclusive.”

The “March for Democracy” started a German inauguration that was under fundamental tension: between Newsom the national partisan hero, drawing battle lines against the “red politicians of the state and the media empire behind them selling regression as going forward, oppression as freedom,” and state chief Newsom, who reiterated the vision he had four years ago of a California for all and, in his closing remarks, made a plea for unity.

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“We all have to win together,” Newsom said.

How the governor continues to balance those competing priorities over the next four years will be a major test of his political future, especially if he plans, as many expect, to seek higher office.

His speech was short on a policy agenda for ordinary Californians, though he stuck to an ongoing conflict with oil companies over gasoline prices. That battle is set to escalate in the coming months as Newsom seeks to punish “excessive profits” through the Legislature in a special session.

Instead, the governor focused extensively on his own biography and family history, from his great-grandfather who emigrated from Ireland to San Francisco and became a policeman, to his childhood hot summer days rafting down the American River with his father.

Mentioning the brief period, early in his first term as mayor of San Francisco in 2004, when he issued then-illegal same-sex marriage licenses, earned him a rare break of spontaneous applause in the 22-minute speech.

Newsom’s reflection on the 150-year journey “from policeman to politician” was intertwined with California’s own history, both glorious and troubled, at times reminiscent of the state’s old chronicler Joan Didion.

“No two California origin stories are the same,” he said. “But we are sharing wishes. We share ambitions.”

Newsom’s efforts to position himself as not only a fighter for California but a true representative of his people contrasted curiously with his fierce political instincts. Many of his comments were attributed to anonymous “little men in big offices” who encouraged attempts to restrict freedoms rather than expand them.

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With references to “Don’t Say Gay,” banning books and “demonizing Mickey Mouse,” it wasn’t hard to figure out that Newsom was specifically referring to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Their political fates have become increasingly intertwined over the past year as DeSantis has emerged as a leading Republican presidential contender and has become a favorite target of Newsom in speeches and interviews.

The Gov. Gavin Newsom, with his family by his side, is sworn in for a second term as governor by Supreme Court Chief Justice Patricia Guerrero at Plaza de California in Sacramento on January 6, 2023. Photo by Rahul Lal, CalMatters

As Newsom was sworn in today by California Supreme Court Chief Justice Patricia Guerrero, there was even a lone protester stood in the crowd with a “Ron DeSantis For President 2024” sign and started yelling about the alleged side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine. He quickly drowned out cheering for the governor and was escorted out by security.

Newsom criticized a Republican ideology that he said promotes “grievance and victimization in an attempt to erase so much of the progress that you and I have seen in our lifetimes,” and warned that no compromise could to exist with their other vision for the nation.

“The battle lines, they’ve been drawn,” he said. “It’s time to choose.”

In an ironic way, Newsom’s march down Capitol Mall — which was brought to bear on California’s spirit of opportunity and inclusion” — also happened largely out of the public eye. After a short photo stop without taking any questions, there were journalists shuffled out of the way for the ticket marchers to continue on their way.

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Jordyn Foley, 23, who drove up from Brentwood in the San Francisco Bay area with her mother and a family friend, embraced the symbolism of the march as an opportunity to “rewrite the history of the day.”

“Our democracy felt violated,” she said of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. “It turned into an anarchy of hate.”

Her mother, Deena Foley, 48, a theater teacher and nonprofit worker, said her family has supported Newsom since he was mayor of San Francisco, because of his focus on helping people and his willingness to share his thoughts. speak up and not rely on the critics. Both she and her daughter cited Newsom’s pandemic leadership, his inclusion of the LGBT community and his push to secure abortion rights in California as highlights of his first term.

“After the Republicans terrorized us for so long, it’s nice to come here and celebrate with the Democrats,” said Deena Foley.

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