Gavin Newsom (D) took office as California’s new governor on Monday, vowing during his swearing-in ceremony to be hard on President Donald Trump while uniting rural and urban communities in the country’s most populous state.
It was a long-awaited moment for the former California lieutenant governor and San Francisco Mayor, who announced his gubernatorial candidacy nearly four years ago. The Democrat takes over the post from Jerry Brown, a decadeslong fixture in statewide politics who termed out of office after 16 non-consecutive years as California governor.
“Here in California, we will prove that people of good faith and firm will can still come together to achieve big things,” said Newsom, who handily defeated Republican challenger John Cox. “We will offer an alternative to the corruption and incompetence in the White House. Our government will be progressive, principled, and always on the side of the people.”
Like Brown, Newsom has positioned himself as a lead figure in California’s resistance to Trump, who recently called him a “clown” who “wants to give [immigrants] health care, education, everything.”
When one of Newsom’s four young children sleepily wandered onstage during his speech Monday ― much to the audience’s, and Twitter’s, amusement ― it helped him underscore his stance against the Trump administration’s border policies and detainment of undocumented children.
“All kids ― not just the children of a governor and a filmmaker ― should have a good life in California ... not ripped away from their parents at the border,” he said, referencing his documentary filmmaker wife, Jennifer Siebel Newsom.
Also like Brown, Newsom is poised to become a stand-in representative for the U.S. in international climate change discussions while the Trump administration reneges on Obama-era commitments. But unlike Brown, Newsom has vowed to take a hardline stance against any future fracking projects in the state. One of his first priorities as governor is working on a plan putting California on a path to 100 percent renewable energy, he’s said.
“Where Washington failed on the epochal challenge of climate change, California led, extending our cap-and-trade system and setting bold targets for lowering greenhouse gas emissions, then beating them,” Newsom said, tipping his hat to Brown.
The new governor also made an appeal to the state’s largely conservative rural voters and promised they wouldn’t be ignored ― a sentiment voters are likely to hear on the 2020 campaign trail from Democratic presidential hopefuls dogged by reputations as coastal elites.
“We will be ‘California for all,’” he promised. “We won’t be divided between rural, urban, north, south, coastal and inland.”
“I recognize that many in our rural communities believe that Sacramento doesn’t care about them — doesn’t even really see them,” he said of the the state’s inland regions, where farmers have suffered the brunt of the state’s drought and unpredictable weather conditions. “Well, I see you. I care about you. And I will represent you with pride.”