Mayor Gavin Newsom's only opponent in the home stretch of the lieutenant governor's race might be himself. After a string of newspaper endorsements, a fundraising advantage and flagging Latino support for his opponent, GOP incumbent Abel Maldonado, Newsom's slim lead in the polls as of last Friday might very well provide the basis for a November 2nd victory.
Winning the endorsement of the Spanish Language La Opinion newspaper, which has supported Maldonado in the past, is perhaps the most effective blow Newsom has so far delivered to the Maldonado campaign.
"The Democratic candidate has implemented solid, progressive management while leading a diverse city during a deep budget crisis. Newsom has proven to be creative, resourceful, and sensitive while forging alliances that improve the quality of life for his city's residents," La Opinion wrote.
Last Sunday's San Jose Mercury News commended the young Newsom for his proven political acumen, while assuming he's grown out of some personal foibles which might have otherwise hampered his support amongst his democratic base:
“It's too bad that Gavin Newsom has grown up, politically, in public.The brashness he showed early on as San Francisco mayor is usually more refined in political leaders by the time they hit national prominence...The lieutenant governor's office is a chance for a politically mature Newsom, a Democrat, to launch ideas on a broader scale.”
In what could be viewed as a sign of desperation, Maldonado crashed a coffee shop luncheon last Monday in which civil rights activist Dolores Huerta and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced their support for Newsom. A California Democratic Party e-mail issued last Wednesday asked a few legitimate questions which seek to frame the situation:
“So was Maldonado’s bizarre behavior an egotistical attempt to intimidate other Latinos who came to the event to support Newsom? Does he feel entitled to the appointed position now that he actually has to compete for voters in a real election? Is he desperate for media attention? Or does he just enjoy being a spectator, watching his opponent secure key Latino endorsements while his own campaign falls apart?”
The newsletter goes on to insinuate that reticence by Latinos to back Maldonado stems from a few key measures the Lt. Gov backed.
“Perhaps Maldonado should've thought about the repercussions of his actions with Latino voters when he supported Prop. 187, denying essential services to immigrants, including denying children access to schools and life-saving medical care,” writes The California Majority Report, “or maybe when he voted to ban affirmative-action programs with Prop. 209 or to roll back bilingual education programs in California schools with Prop. 227.”
Maldonado's shunning of the California Dream Act, making it possible for immigrants who are qualified California high school graduates to participate in the Cal Grant program, was probably the final nail in the coffin.
It looks like Newsom will be one more Democrat who will help California buck the red tide which is likely to sweep over the rest of the nation next week.