In making a case for how he will tackle the daunting financial and social challenges of the nation’s most populous state, Newsom has stressed at the forums what he says are his city’s landmark accomplishments in four key areas: health care, the environment, the budget and education.
More:Fact-checking Newsom’s claims.
But some critics suggest that, in his quest to boost his political profile, the mayor may be overstating those accomplishments or, in some cases, is oversimplifying the issues.With less than a year before the 2010 Democratic primary, where he’s expected to face former two-term governor and current Attorney General Jerry Brown, Newsom’s effort to reach millions of voters in Southern California is critical to his political future.
“I don’t think he’s well-known – and, unfortunately for him, he’s going to have to overcome the one context in which people do know him,” says Mark Petracca, political science professor at UC Irvine. That issue is same-sex marriage, and Newsom’s declaration that such marriages will exist in California – “like it or not” – became a focal point of ads for Proposition 8, the voter-approved November initiative to ban same-sex marriage in the state.
A KGTV poll this week of 500 registered voters in San Diego County showed that just 11 percent hold a favorable view of Newsom, compared with 22 percent unfavorable, 23 percent neutral – and 44 percent who have no opinion of him.