Gavin Newsom enjoys spotlight before yielding it to Brown

Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom applauds for Gov. Jerry Brown after last year's State of the State speech.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

SACRAMENTO -- Before the annual State of the State speech in California’s Capitol, it’s the lieutenant governor’s job to introduce the governor.

This year, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom decided to widen his role a bit and delve into some of his favorite topics, despite having prefaced his remarks by saying, “Nobody wants to hear me run my mouth.”

He quoted journalist Tom Friedman on globalization and Winston Churchill on the economy. And he urged the state’s leaders to tackle issues of job creation and climate change.


Newsom touched on the growth of technology, providing a rough synopsis of his book “Citizenville,” which explores how “ordinary citizens can use new digital tools to dissolve political gridlock.”

“The rate of change in this world is unimaginable,” Newsom told the audience Wednesday morning. “We’re going from something old to something completely new. The tech genie is now out of the bottle.”

When Newsom finished, Gov. Jerry Brown took over and took a quick shot at the younger politician, or took the opportunity to pitch himself for reelection -- or both.

“I appreciate change, but I also value continuity,” the governor quipped, offering a message of his own: “There is no substitute for experience.”

The relationship between Brown and Newsom has been tense. In a profile of Newsom last July, The Times reported that the two men had not had a one-on-one meeting since the 2010 election.

Newsom, who sought the governor’s office before being edged out by Brown, has chafed at the lack of power granted to the state’s second in command. He has a campaign committee to run for reelection as lieutenant governor but has not formally announced his plans.


Newsom isn’t the only lieutenant governor who lingered at the rostrum before a State of the State speech.

In 2004, Cruz Bustamante delivered what The Times described as “a lengthy preamble that was itself suggestive of a State of the State address.”

Bustamante, a Democrat, had recently lost to Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger in California’s madcap gubernatorial recall election.


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Twitter: @chrismegerian