LOS ANGELES (AP) — Democrat Gavin Newsom defeated a lesser-known Republican Tuesday to coast to a second term as California’s lieutenant governor, a low-profile post that has little actual power.
With a quarter of precincts counted, Newsom garnered 54 percent of the vote over former state Republican Party chairman Ron Nehring.
“Thank you California for confirming your trust in me once again,” Newsom said in a Twitter post shortly after Nehring conceded the race, also on Twitter.
Both men ran for lieutenant governor on the idea that the low-visibility job with little power can still be a platform for change — and voters had to decide whose message they preferred.
In first term, Newsom — the former mayor of San Francisco — has used the position to draw attention to domestic violence in the NFL, gay marriage and the California budget.
He also announced his support for the legalization of marijuana and his opposition to Gov. Jerry Brown’s high-speed rail project.
Nehring argued that Newsom hadn’t done enough to promote economic recovery in California. He also said Newsom avoided a debate that could have made the race less “invisible.”
The person who holds the job serves as chair of the California Commission for Economic Development, but the 17-member panel has been unable to meet because it has so many open seats.
Nehring, 44, served four years as the state Republican Party chairman and is now a political consultant based in San Diego. He also serves on a school board.
Newsom, 47, previously served eight years as mayor and garnered national attention when he ordered the San Francisco city clerk in 2004 to ignore state law at the time and issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Newsom’s actions led to the legal cases that legalized gay marriage in California.
Newsom launched a brief campaign for governor before dropping out in 2009.
The last Republican to hold the office was Mike Curb, who was elected in 1978.
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