Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom was greeted by raucous applause and blasts of confetti Wednesday as he took the stage to receive his first major endorsement in his 2018 campaign for governor from a labor union representing nurses in California.
The Democratic hopeful was swarmed by dozens of attendees who ran onto the stage to snap selfies as rock music blasted through the conference center ballroom. Newsom joked the scene felt as if he had already won the race, which is three years away.
Newsom thanked the union for the first endorsement of his campaign and personally praised the gathering of nurses for their work, adding that his father, retired state appellate Judge William Newsom, was in the hospital for 13 days last month.
During his appearance, Newsom spoke broadly about the state of the economy and battling income inequality in California.
At one point he paraphrased the Greek historian Plutarch saying, "The imbalance between the rich and the poor is the oldest and most fatal ailment of all republics."
"The economy is not immutable, it's not about natural laws it's about rules and we make the rules," he said.
In 2010, it tracked down the former housekeeper of GOP gubernatorial nominee Meg Whitman, a woman who did not have legal residency. The issue proved to be a political embarrassment to Whitman. And in 2005, the nurses led the effort against former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s slate of special election ballot measures — an effort that was sparked by an incident in which Schwarzenegger dismissed some union protesters as “special interests” and noted he was “always kicking their butts."
Among the three, only Newsom is an official candidate. Villaraigosa has indicated that he may consider a run and has been going on a listening tour in the state's Central Valley.
Newsom acknowledged the 2018 campaign hasn't started because there are no other candidates.
"We have to put our head down, take nothing for granted. This is a long three years," he said in an interview. "A lot of good candidates, I expect, will be making their case sooner than later."
Staff writer John Myers contributed to this report.