Why Is Gavin Hiding the State of the State Speech?

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 giving a state of the state speech he apparently doesn’t want you to hear. You can tell from the timing: 11 a.m. next Tuesday, Feb. 12.

It’s the wrong choice, on almost every level.

Since this is politics, the political notion here is to make sure the governor is not overexposed. That’s the logic by which Jerry Brown gave these speeches at similarly inconvenient times for working people.

But Newsom isn’t Brown. He’s not nearly as well-known. And, to his credit, he has a much bigger and more ambitious agenda than his predecessor.

So he needs to make the case for that agenda. And he also desperately needs to change the conversational framing around state government, which is still defined by Brown’s excessive caution and frugality. Governors get very few chances to command attention, especially with the state’s media so diminished. It makes little sense for this governor in particular to stand down when he has one such opportunity.

I’d argue, too, that Newsom has an obligation to reach as many people as possible. California’s state governance are very highly centralized—we have very weak local governments—and more and more of that power belongs to the governor. So governors owe it to citizens to be accountable and speak at times that are most convenient to us.

I’ve written before that the State of the State should be bigger than the Brownian conception. It should be held in multiple regions and be given to citizens themselves, in town hall formats.

Why not reschedule this speech, Gov. Newsom, or take it to the people?

Comment on this article


Please note, statements and opinions expressed on the Fox&Hounds Blog are solely those of their respective authors and may not represent the views of Fox&Hounds Daily or its employees thereof. Fox&Hounds Daily is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the site's bloggers.