I once invited Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom to speak to a class I teach at Pepperdine University with the admittedly too flippant remark, “What else do you have to do, you’re lieutenant governor.” He graciously agreed to come despite my weak attempt at humor, but more to the point Newsom has managed to keep relevant on the California political scene despite occupying a position he himself once suggested be done away with.

As John Wildermuth pointed out in nominating Newsom for this year’s Black Bart Award as the California political figure of the year, Newsom manages to get in front of major issues. “Love him or hate him – and there are plenty of folks on each side – Gavin Newsom hasn’t been afraid to take public stands on some of the most controversial issues facing California,” Wildermuth wrote.

Whether the issue is gay marriage, decided by the United States Supreme Court this year, marijuana or guns, Newsom stays in the public eye by associating with hot topics. In more than one instance, he is attempting to force issues in front of voters in a very typical California way – by using the initiative process.

Time will tell if he is successful with his new efforts, but because of his activist role in so many high profile issues that have or soon will confront the California electorate, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom is the Black Bart Award winner for 2015.

It was not clear sailing to the award as others received serious consideration, particularly state Senator Steve Glazer who is a symbol of changing politics in the state. But given Newsom’s ambition to run for governor in 2018 in what looks like a crowded field, he should get used to close contests.

We named the Californian of the Year Award in Politics after gentleman highwayman Black Bart, a California original. He mixed a bit of larceny, artistry, and good manners with the character to pushback when he thought the system was working against him.

Fox and Hounds Daily will now take its annual winter hibernation and begin publishing again on January 4, 2016.

Happy Holidays.