Gavin Newsom

Gavin Newsom
Gavin Newsom
49th Lieutenant Governor of California
Assumed office
January 10, 2011
Governor Jerry Brown
Preceded by Abel Maldonado
42nd Mayor of San Francisco
In office
January 3, 2004 – January 10, 2011
Preceded by Willie Brown
Succeeded by Edwin M. Lee
Member of the
San Francisco Board of Supervisors
from the 2nd District
In office
Preceded by District created in 2000; prior terms were on a city-wide seat. Appointed to Kevin Shelley's seat.
Succeeded by Michela Alioto-Pier
Personal details
Born October 10, 1967 (1967-10-10) (age 44)
San Francisco, California, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Kimberly Guilfoyle (2001–2006, divorced)
Jennifer Siebel (2008–present)
Residence San Francisco, California, U.S.
Alma mater Santa Clara University (B.A.)
Profession Politician
Religion Roman Catholicism

Gavin Christopher Newsom (born October 10, 1967) is an American politician who is the 49th and current Lieutenant Governor of California.[1] Previously, he was the 42nd Mayor of San Francisco, and was elected in 2003 to succeed Willie Brown, becoming San Francisco's youngest mayor in 100 years.[2] Newsom was re-elected in 2007 with 72 percent of the vote.[3][4] In 2010, Samepoint released a study that measured the social media influence of mayors around the country, and ranking the top 100 most social mayors. San Francisco's Mayor Gavin Newsom was named the Most Social Mayor in America according to the Samepoint study.

Newsom graduated from Redwood High School in Larkspur, California, in 1985, and in 1989 from Santa Clara University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science. His PlumpJack Wine Shop, founded in 1992, grew into a multimillion-dollar enterprise, and now includes bars, restaurants, and a Lake Tahoe hotel called Squaw Valley Inn. He was first appointed by Willie Brown to serve on San Francisco's Parking and Traffic Commission in 1996, and was appointed the following year as Supervisor. Newsom drew voter attention with his Care Not Cash program, designed to move homeless people into city assisted care. He defeated the Green Party's Matt Gonzalez 53% to 47% in a run-off in his race for mayor in 2003, becoming the youngest mayor of San Francisco since John W. Geary.

In March 2010, he announced his candidacy for Lieutenant Governor,[1] setting off speculation about possible successors if he were to win.[5] In June 2010, he received the Democratic nomination for Lieutenant Governor.[6] Newsom won the 2010 lieutenant governor election on November 2, 2010.[7]


Early life

Newsom is a fourth-generation San Franciscan; his paternal great-grandfather emigrated from Ireland in 1865. One of his maternal great-grandfathers, Scotsman Thomas Addis, was a pioneer scientist in the field of nephrology and a professor of medicine at Stanford University. His father William Newsom is a retired state appeals court Justice. Newsom's parents separated when he was two and divorced in 1972, and at age 10 Newsom moved with his mother, Tessa, and sister to nearby Marin County.[8][9] In May 2002, Tessa (Menzies) Newsom died after a five-year fight with breast cancer.

Newsom later reflected that he did not have an easy childhood.[9] Newsom attended kindergarten and first grade at the French-American bilingual school in San Francisco but transferred because of severe dyslexia that still affects him. His dyslexia has made it difficult for him to write, spell, read, and work with numbers.[9] He attended third through fifth grades at Notre Dame des Victoires, where he was placed in remedial reading classes.[8] Newsom graduated from Redwood High School in 1985. He played basketball and baseball in high school.[8] Newsom was an outfielder in baseball. His basketball skills placed him on the cover of the Marin Independent Journal.[8] Newsom's childhood friend Derek Smith recalled Newsom as "one of the hardest working players on the team who became a great player because of his effort, instead of his natural abilities."[8] Newsom's father attended his games with San Francisco politicians that included John Burton and Quentin Kopp. Newsom's father had ties to several other local politicians.[8] Newsom's aunt was married to the brother-in-law of former Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi.[9] Newsom's father was also a friend of Governor Jerry Brown.[9]

Tessa Newsom worked three jobs to support Gavin and his sister Hilary Newsom Callan. In an interview with The San Francisco Chronicle, his sister recalled Christmas holidays when their mother told them there wouldn't be any gifts.[8] Despite limited finances, Tessa opened their home to foster children, instilling in Newsom the importance of public service.[8][10] His father's finances were strapped in part because of his father's tendency to give away his earnings.[10] Newsom worked several jobs in high school to help support his family.[3]

Newsom attended Santa Clara University on a partial baseball scholarship and student loans, where he graduated in 1989 with a B.A. in political science. Newsom was a left-handed pitcher for Santa Clara but he threw his arm out after two years and hasn't thrown a baseball since.[11] He lived in the Alameda apartments which Newsom later compared to living in a hotel. He later reflected on his education fondly, crediting the Socratic approach of Santa Clara that he said has helped him become an independent thinker who questions orthodoxy. Newsom spent a semester studying abroad in Rome.[12]

Business career

Newsom's first job out of college was selling podiatric orthotics.[8] He later worked for real estate firm Shorenstein & Company, where he worked as an assistant and performed a range of jobs that included cleaning bathrooms and removing asbestos.[8] He earned US$18,000 per year.[9] Newsom also earned a real estate license.[8]

On June 14, 1991, Newsom and his investors created the company PlumpJack Associates L.P. In 1992, the group started the PlumpJack Wine Shop on Fillmore Street in San Francisco with the financial help of his family friend Gordon Getty. PlumpJack was the name of an opera written by Getty, who invested in 10 of Newsom's 11 businesses.[9] Getty told the San Francisco Chronicle that he treated Newsom like a son and invested in his first business venture because of that relationship. According to Getty, later business investments were because of "the success of the first."[9] At the PlumpJack Cafe, Newsom gave a monthly $50 gift certificate to employees whose business ideas failed because according to him in 1997: "There can be no success without failure."[11]

One of Newsom's early interactions with government occurred when Newsom resisted the San Francisco Health Department requirement to install a sink at his PlumpJack Wines. The Health Department argued that wine was a food. The department required the store to install a $27,000 sink in the carpeted wine shop on the grounds that the shop needed the sink for a mop. When Newsom was later appointed Supervisor, he told the San Francisco Examiner: "That's the kind of bureaucratic malaise I'm going to be working through."[11]

The business grew to an enterprise with over 700 employees.[8] The PlumpJack Cafe Partners L.P. opened the PlumpJack Cafe, also on Fillmore Street, in 1993. Between 1993 and 2000, Newsom and his investors opened several other businesses that included the PlumpJack Squaw Valley Inn with a PlumpJack Cafe (1994), the Napa Valley winery (1995), the Balboa Cafe Bar and Grill (1995), the PlumpJack Development Fund L.P. (1996), the MatrixFillmore Bar (1998), PlumpJack Wines shop Noe Valley branch (1999), PlumpJackSport retail clothing (2000), and a second Balboa Cafe at Squaw Valley (2000).[9] Newsom's investments included five restaurants and two retail clothing stores.[8] Newsom's annual income was greater than $429,000 from 1996 to 2001.[9] In 2002, his business holdings were valued at more than $6.9 million.[8]

Newsom sold his share of his San Francisco businesses when he became mayor in 2004. He maintained his ownership in the PlumpJack companies outside San Francisco that included the PlumpJack Winery in Oakville, California, new PlumpJack-owned Cade Winery in Angwin, California and the PlumpJack Squaw Valley Inn. He is currently the president in absentia of Airelle Wines Inc., which is connected to the PlumpJack Winery in Napa County. Newsom earned between $141,000 and $251,000 in 2007 from his business interests.[13] In February 2006 he paid $2,350,000 for his residence in the Russian Hill neighborhood, which he put on the market in April 2009 for $2,995,000.[14]

Early political career

Newsom's first political experience came when he volunteered for Willie Brown's campaign for mayor in 1995. Newsom hosted a private fundraiser at his PlumpJack Cafe.[9] In 1996, he was appointed by San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown to a vacant seat on the Parking and Traffic Commission and was later elected president of the commission. In 1997, Brown appointed him to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors seat vacated by Kevin Shelley. At the time, he became the youngest member of San Francisco's Board of Supervisors and also the board's only heterosexual Caucasian male.[15][16][17] Newsom was sworn in by his father and pledged to bring his business experience to the Board.[16] Willie Brown called Newsom "part of the future generation of leaders of this great city."[16] Newsom described himself as a "social liberal and a fiscal watchdog."[16][17] Newsom was subsequently elected to a full, 4 year term to the Board in 1998.

In 1999, San Francisco's voters chose to exchange at-large elections to the Board for the previous district system, and Newsom was reelected in 2000 and 2002 to represent District 2, which includes the Pacific Heights, Marina, Cow Hollow, Sea Cliff, and Laurel Heights. He faced no opposition in his 2002 reelection. His district had the highest income level and the highest Republican registration in San Francisco. Newsom also had author Danielle Steel and actor Robin Williams as constituents.[18] In 2000, Newsom paid $500 to the San Francisco Republican Party to be on the party's endorsement slate.[19]

As Supervisor, Newsom gained public attention for his role in advocating reform of the city's Municipal Railway (Muni).[20] He was one of two supervisors endorsed by Rescue Muni, a transit riders group, in his 1998 reelection. He sponsored Proposition B to require Muni and other city departments to develop detailed customer service plans.[9][21] The measure passed with 56.6% of the vote.[22] Newsom sponsored a ballot measure from Rescue Muni; a version of the measure was approved by voters in November 1999.[20]

Newsom also supported allowing restaurants to serve alcohol at their outdoor tables, banning tobacco advertisements visible from the streets, stiffer penalties for landlords, and a resolution to commend Colin Powell for raising money for youth programs that was defeated.[20] Newsom's support for business interests at times strained his relationship with labor leaders.[20]

Newsom in 2009

During Newsom's time as Supervisor, he was pro-development and for smart growth along with being "anti-handout."[23] He supported housing projects through public-private partnerships to increase home ownership and affordable housing in San Francisco.[23] Newsom supported HOPE, a failed local ballot measure that would have allowed increased condo-conversion rate if a certain percentage of tenants within a building were buying their units.[23] As a candidate for Mayor, he supported building 10,000 new housing units to create 15,000 new construction jobs.[23]

As Supervisor, the centerpiece of Newsom's efforts was a voter initiative called "Care Not Cash (Measure N)," which offered care, supportive housing, drug treatment, and help from behavior health specialists for the homeless instead of direct cash aid from the state's General Assistance program.[23] Many homeless rights advocates protested against Care Not Cash.[24][25] The successfully passed ballot measure raised the political profile of Gavin Newsom and provided the volunteers, donors, and campaign staff, which helped make him a leading contender for the Mayorship in 2003.[9][23][26][27]

Mayoral races


Newsom placed first in the November 4, 2003 general election in a nine-person field. Newsom received 41.9 percent of the vote to Green Party candidate Matt Gonzalez's 19.6 in the first round of balloting, but he faced a closer race in the December 9 runoff when many of the city's liberal groups coalesced around the campaign of Gonzalez.[26] The race was partisan with attacks against Gonzalez for his support of Ralph Nader in the 2000 presidential election and attacks against Newsom for contributing $500 to a Republican slate mailer in 2000 that endorsed issues Newsom supported.[28][29] Democratic leadership felt that they needed to reinforce San Francisco as a Democratic stronghold after losing the 2000 presidential election and the 2003 recall election to Arnold Schwarzenegger.[29] National figures from the Democratic Party, including Bill Clinton, Al Gore, and Jesse Jackson, campaigned on Newsom's behalf.[29][30] Five supervisors endorsed Gonzalez while Newsom received the endorsement of Willie Brown.[26][27]

Newsom won the run-off race, capturing 53 percent of the vote to Gonzalez's 47 percent, and winning by about 11,000 votes.[26] Newsom ran as a business friendly centrist Democrat and a moderate in San Francisco politics; some of his opponents called him conservative.[26][29] Newsom claimed he was a centrist in the Dianne Feinstein mold.[23][31] He ran on the slogan "great cities, great ideas" and presented over 21 policy papers.[27] Newsom pledged to continue working on San Francisco's homelessness issue.[26] Newsom was sworn in as Mayor on January 3, 2004. He called for unity among the city's political factions and promised to address the issues of potholes, public schools, and affordable housing.[32] Newsom said he was "a different kind of leader who "isn't afraid to solve even the toughest problems."[33]


San Francisco's progressive community attempted to find a candidate to run a strong campaign against Newsom. Supervisors Ross Mirkarimi and Chris Daly considered running against Newsom but both declined. Matt Gonzalez also decided not to challenge Newsom.[34] When the August 10, 2007 filing deadline passed, the discussion around San Francisco shifted to talk about Newsom's second term. He was challenged in the election by 13 challengers that included George Davis, a nudist activist, and Michael Powers, owner of the Power Exchange sex club.[35] Conservative former Supervisor Tony Hall withdrew by early September due to lack of support.[36] The San Francisco Chronicle declared in August 2007 that Newsom faced no "serious threat to his re-election bid." Newsom raised $1.6 million for his re-election campaign by early August.[37] He won re-election on November 6, 2007 with over 72% of the vote.[4] Upon taking office for a second term, Newsom promised to focus on the environment, homelessness, health care, education, housing and rebuilding San Francisco General Hospital.[38][39]


Newsom at Stanford University in 2008

As mayor, Newsom has focused on development projects in Hunters Point and Treasure Island. He signed the Health Choices Plan in 2007 to provide San Francisco residents with universal healthcare. Under Newsom, San Francisco ostensibly joined the Kyoto Protocol, although it could not actually join a treaty between sovereign states. In 2004, Newsom gained national attention when he directed the San Francisco city-county clerk to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, in violation of the current state law.[40] In August 2004, the Supreme Court of California annulled the marriages that Newsom had authorized, as they conflicted with state law at that time. Still, Newsom's unexpected move brought national attention to the issues of gay marriage and gay rights, solidifying political support for Newsom in San Francisco and in the gay community.[3][10][41]

In 2009 he received the Leadership for Healthy Communities Award along with mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York City and three other public officials for his commitment to making healthy food and physical activity options more accessible to children and families.[42] For example, in 2008, he hosted the Urban Rural Roundtable to explore ways to promote regional food development and increased access to healthy affordable food,[43] and he secured $8 million in federal and local funds for the Better Streets program,[44] which ensures that public health perspectives are fully integrated into urban planning processes. He also signed a menu-labeling bill into law, requiring that chain restaurants print nutrition information on their menus.[45]

Proposition 8

During the 2008 election, Newsom was a prominent and vocal opponent of Proposition 8, the ballot initiative to eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry.[46] In the months leading up to Election Day, Proposition 8 supporters released a commercial featuring Newsom saying the following words in a speech regarding same-sex marriage: "This door's wide open now. It's going to happen, whether you like it or not."[47] Some observers noted that polls shifted in favor of Proposition 8 following the release of the commercial; this, in turn, led to speculation that Newsom unwittingly played a role in the passage of the amendment.[47][48][49][50][51] Newsom was recently named America's Most Social Mayor by, based on analysis of the Social Media profile of Mayors from the top 100 largest cities in the United States.[52]


In 2004, Newsom gained national attention when he directed the San Francisco city-county clerk to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, in violation of the current state law.[53] In August 2004, the Supreme Court of California annulled the marriages that Newsom had authorized, as they conflicted with state law at that time. Still, Newsom's unexpected move brought national attention to the issues of gay marriage and gay rights, solidifying political support for Newsom in San Francisco and in the gay community.[3][10][41]

In January 2007, it was revealed that Newsom had had a romantic relationship in mid-2005 with Ruby Rippey-Tourk, the wife of his former deputy chief of staff and then campaign manager, Alex Tourk.[54] Tourk filed for divorce shortly after the revelation and left Newsom's campaign and administration.

In 2009, Newsom came under attack for the City of San Francisco's policy of illegally harboring juvenile criminal aliens. The city was circumventing Immigration and Customs Enforcement by harboring or sending the aliens back to their own native countries. [55]

Lieutenant Governor

In April 2009, Newsom announced his intention to run for Governor of California in the 2010 Election. In September 2009, he received the endorsement of former president Bill Clinton. During the campaign, Newsom remarked that, if elected, he'd like to be referred to as "The Gavinator" (a reference to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's nickname, "The Governator"). Throughout the campaign, however, Newsom suffered low poll numbers, trailing Democratic front-runner Jerry Brown by more than 20 points in most polls.[56][57][58][59][60][61][62] In October 2009, Newsom dropped out of the gubernatorial race.[63][64][65]

In February 2010 Newsom filed initial paperwork to run for Lieutenant Governor,[66] and officially announced his candidacy in March.[1] He received the Democratic nomination in June,[6] and won the election on November 2, 2010.[67]

Newsom was sworn in as Lieutenant Governor, on January 10, 2011. The one-week delay was to ensure that a successor as mayor of San Francisco was chosen before he left office. Edwin M. Lee, the city administrator, took office the day after Newsom was sworn in as Lieutenant Governor.

Personal life

Newsom and Jennifer Siebel at the 2008 San Francisco Pride parade.

Newsom was baptized and reared Roman Catholic. He describes himself as an "Irish-Catholic some respects, but one that still has tremendous admiration for the Church and very strong faith." When asked about the current state of the Catholic Church in an interview, he said the church was in crisis. Newsom said he stays with the Church because of his "strong connection to a greater purpose, and ... higher being ..." Newsom identifies himself as a practicing Roman Catholic,[68] stating that he has a "strong sense of faith that is perennial: day in and day out."[12]

In December 2001, Newsom married Kimberly Guilfoyle, a former San Francisco prosecutor and legal commentator for Court TV, CNN, and MSNBC, and who now hosts The Lineup and also appears on various other shows, including The O'Reilly Factor on Fox News Channel. The couple married at Saint Ignatius Catholic Church on the campus of the University of San Francisco, where Guilfoyle attended law school. The couple appeared in the September 2004 issue of Harper's Bazaar, a fashion magazine, in a spread of them at the Getty mansion with the title the "New Kennedys."[3][69] In January 2005 they jointly filed for divorce, citing "difficulties due to their careers on opposite coasts."[70]

In January 2007, it was revealed that Newsom had had a romantic relationship in mid-2005 with Ruby Rippey-Tourk, the wife of his former deputy chief of staff and then campaign manager, Alex Tourk.[71] Tourk filed for divorce shortly after the revelation and left Newsom's campaign and administration.

Newsom's sexual encounters with the wife of his campaign manager and "Great Friend" [72] impacted his popularity with male voters, who viewed his indiscretions as a betrayal of a close friend and ally.[73]

In September 2006, Newsom began dating actress Jennifer Siebel after being set up for a blind date by mutual friend, Kathy Wilsey.[74] In December 2007 their engagement was announced,[75][76] and they were married in Stevensville, Montana, in July 2008.[77] In February 2009, they announced that they were expecting a child. In September, Siebel gave birth to a girl, Montana Tessa Newsom.[78] In December 2010 they announced that they were expecting a second child, a son, due June 19, 2011, Siebel's birthday.[79] Siebel gave birth to a son, Hunter Siebel Newsom, on June 12, 2011.

Newsom is the second cousin, twice removed, of musician Joanna Newsom.[80]


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  71. ^ Phil Matier, Andrew Ross, Cecilia M. Vega (2007-01-31). "Aide Quits As Newsom's Affair With His Wife Is Revealed / Campaign manager confronts mayor, who is 'in shock'". The San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2010-11-06. 
  72. ^ . Retrieved 2011-06-08. 
  73. ^ Nevius, C.W. (February 2, 2007). "Unforgivable breach of the Man Code". The San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2011-06-08. 
  74. ^ Heather Maddan (2007-03-11). "Girlfriend, uninterrupted / Actress Jennifer Siebel is standing by her man, who happens to be Mayor Gavin Newsom, and says there's no trouble in their romance". The San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2008-03-10. 
  75. ^ Carolyne Zinko (2008-01-01). "S.F. Mayor Newsom engaged to be married". The San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2008-03-10. 
  76. ^ Matier and Ross (2008-05-25). "Newsom, Siebel plan Montana wedding in July". "San Francisco Chronicle". Retrieved 2008-06-22. 
  77. ^ Park, Michael Y. (2008-07-26). "San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom Weds - Weddings".,,20215158,00.html?xid=rss-topheadlines. Retrieved 2010-11-18. 
  78. ^ The City Insider (2009-02-18). "And baby makes three for the Newsoms". The San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2009-02-19. 
  79. ^ Leah Garchik (2010-12-24). "Newsoms to welcome Montana's brother". Retrieved 2011-01-19. 
  80. ^ "San Francisco Bay Guardian article, 2003". 2003-11-26. Retrieved 2010-11-07. 

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Kevin Shelley
Member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors
District 2

Succeeded by
Michela Alioto-Pier
Preceded by
Willie Brown
Mayor of San Francisco
Succeeded by
Edwin M. Lee
Preceded by
Abel Maldonado
Lieutenant Governor of California
January 10, 2011 – present
Party political offices
Preceded by
John Garamendi
Democratic nominee for Lieutenant Governor of California
Most recent

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