Gavin Newsom told USA Today, "I'm the least likely person to be pushing (gay rights), raised by nuns and priests, being from an Irish Catholic family. Maybe I should let go of it, but I can't. It's a core belief in my soul.”
The primaries on Tuesday night were watched very closely in California and not just the congressional ones. In the governor’s race, we witnessed a new political star on the horizon.
That race saw Irish American Gavin Newsom,51, win handsomely on the Democratic side and he will face a Republican opponent in November. With the huge Democratic bias in the state, it feels a very safe bet to predict that Newsom will be California's next governor.
JUST IN: Republican gubernatorial candidate John Cox will be one of the top two finishers in California’s jungle primary and will advance to the November election to face off against Democrat @GavinNewsom. pic.twitter.com/QgqHakcWmy— Fox News (@FoxNews) June 6, 2018
It will bring national exposure to a politician who might well be a future Irish American contender for the White House.
Gavin Newsom grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area in the strangest of circumstances, an “Irish Catholic rebel” to quote himself. His father, William, was a judge but had the extraordinary habit of giving all his money away. William was separated from his wife which meant Gavin and his sister grew up with a single mother who worked three jobs to support the family after divorcing her husband.
It was a struggle. Gavin had severe dyslexia and down to the present day has difficulty reading speeches and sometimes, even with writing. He was placed in special ed in high school.
Judge Bill Newsom though had a special friend from high school called Gordon Getty, the richest man in America at one point in 1983 and so named by Forbes Magazine. So close was Newsom to the Getty family that he was detailed to fly to Italy with the payment for the ransom note when the grandson of J Paul Getty, Gordon's father, and a skinflint billionaire, was kidnapped and had his ear chopped off because the family was not moving fast enough to pay the price for freeing him.
So close were the families that Gavin Newsom became practically an adopted child of Gordon Getty. From a hardscrabble life to one of great opulence, Gavin Newsom had a head-spinning childhood but the Getty name proved a powerful aid when he ran for office and needed money.
He had become successful himself starting a wine business called PlumpJack wine stores but politics always attracted him. It was in the blood. His father who was chairman of the Irish Forum, a local Irish American group which brought over speakers from Ireland to discuss the Northern Irish conflict, had run for office unsuccessfully himself.
Newsome was elected mayor of San Francisco at age 36 in 2003. He will always be remembered for what he did next whatever trajectory his political career takes.
He declared his support for gay marriage at a time when it was banned in almost every state and a federal law entitled the “Defense of Marriage Act” slapped a federal ban on it too. He opened up City Hall marriage bureau to gay couples who wished to wed and even officiated at some himself.
Courage for a Change
14 years ago, we made history in San Francisco by issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. It was a rebellious move at the time – same-sex marriage was illegal almost everywhere, California included – but I knew then as I know now: it's never the wrong time to do the right thing. During the time that marriage licenses were issued, couples traveled from all over to get married. We witnessed joy, excitement, longing, love - and the one that really stood out: hope. Since then, we've continued to change the polls instead of chase them – leading the fight in California to enact universal healthcare, implement real criminal justice reforms, and bring an end to the epidemic of mass incarceration. Together, we’ve taken bold steps to protect our climate, our coastline, and our environment. And we’ve stood up to the NRA and passed some of the strongest gun safety protections in the country. That kind of courageous leadership has never been more critical, and I damn sure take it seriously.Posted by Gavin Newsom on Monday, February 12, 2018
He was roundly excoriated by Democratic Party elders and his political career was written off by many. He stuck by his guns, however, and thousands got married and helped create the public debate around the issue of same sex marriage.
He told USA Today, "I'm the least likely person to be pushing (gay rights), raised by nuns and priests, being from an Irish Catholic family. Maybe I should let go of it, but I can't. It's a core belief in my soul."
Ann Getty, wife of Gordon Getty saw the enormous struggle and hatred aimed at Newsom because of his move "When you are working that hard, and you have principles, and if you're Irish, the world's going to break your heart."
Now it looks like the shrewdest move any politician could have made. An unsuccessful run for governor followed but he was elected Lieutenant Governor and now is the Democratic candidate for California governor which in California almost certainly means victory in November.
What a privilege it was to vote for my husband today. He is kind, he is just, and he is truly committed to public service- to lifting everyone up in California. We love you so much @GavinNewsom and we are so proud of you!!! #teamgavin pic.twitter.com/eAmBSrfGnJ— Jen Siebel Newsom (@JenSiebelNewsom) June 5, 2018
Beyond that, there will be much speculation. Perhaps even a White House bid in 2020 after two years in office if he wins might be on the cards in what looks like a wide-open Democratic contest.
Either way, the future looks very bright for the 6 foot 3 Kennedy-like politician. If he wins he will replace another Irish Catholic, Jerry Browne, a nice synergy as Brown's father and Newsome’s grandfather knew each other well.
Newsom for 2020? Certainly 2024 or 28 beckons if, as expected, he wins the governorship of California. Expect to see him around.