Newsom’s Strong Start

Joe Mathews
Connecting California Columnist and Editor, Zócalo Public Square, Fellow at the Center for Social Cohesion at Arizona State University and co-author of California Crackup: How Reform Broke the Golden State and How We Can Fix It (UC Press, 2010)

Gavin Newsom is behaving like a man who has spent eight years preparing to do this job.

His first couple weeks of governor have resembled nothing so much as the first quarters played by the San Francisco 49ers when the coach was Bill Walsh, who intensely scripted the game’s first 15 plays. Newsom has been on the move, with planning and intention, advancing proposals, responding to events, and getting to places around the state.

He’s actually governing, in a way that you can see and feel. Jerry Brown disdained such governance, and preferred doing less and doing it behind closed doors. The difference is noticeable, and refreshing.

It’s also riskier. The more you do, the more mistakes you’ll make. But Newsom is moving at a pace that’s hard to keep up with. The press is already complaining about not being notified in advance of all his events and travel. Newsom has defended this by saying he sees surprise as an ally.

Two weeks, of course, don’t make a governorship. Recession and disaster and self-inflicted wounds lie ahead. But for a governor this ambitious, a good start was essential. And he’s achieved it.

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