Every burned town is tragic. But Newsom needs to lead with science, not sentiment.
Newsom, a former mayor of Oakland, California, has been running for governor of California for more than a year. He’s often been described as a politician-turned-activist, combining his two passions: California is a hot state and he wants to be governor.
He’s an old-school environmentalist—he served on the Board of Directors of the Sierra Club for more than 20 years—but he also has a record of taking bold positions on issues like climate change and immigration that don’t go over well with Republican legislators or right-wing voters. Some of his policies are unorthodox, like his plan to tax all personal income up to $250,000. (Not every single person in the state would have to raise the tax, just income above about $1 million. The wealthy and the super-rich would bear higher tax burdens.)
And Newsom is from the left wing. The most progressive politician in California’s history—by far—was a Democrat, Dianne Feinstein. But he’s a centrist, perhaps less so than his predecessor, Jerry Brown.
Most pundits think he’s a safe choice for governor, although many expect that, with his moderate record and the possibility of having to deal with the state Legislature, he could still be voted out by voters. Still, he is a good choice, and Californians should be impressed by his campaign. His supporters are not only the largest, wealthiest and most influential group of Californians but also the most active, and the most enthusiastic, according to a recent poll.
Newsom’s opponent, Republican incumbent John Cox, has a long and troubled political career. He served for a time as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives and in 1992 became mayor of San Francisco. In that capacity, he was a member of