California’s Gavin Newsom rebukes White House in inaugural address
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Incoming California Gov. Gavin Newsom will draw immediate battle lines Monday with President Donald Trump in his inaugural address, portraying California’s “progressive, principled” policies as the antidote to the White House’s “corruption and incompetence.”
“People’s lives, freedom, security, the water we drink, the air we breathe — they all hang in the balance,” Newsom plans to say, according to excerpts of his speech released by his office.
Newsom takes the helm as the 40th governor of the nation’s most populous state, succeeding fellow Democrat Jerry Brown. He enters the governorship two years into California’s self-styled “resistance” to Trump, and appears poised to ramp up the contrast even more.
But even as he needles Trump, Newsom will attempt an overture to the millions of voters in rural California who voted for Trump in 2016 and Newsom’s Republican rival last November.
“I recognize that many in our rural communities believe that Sacramento doesn’t care about them — doesn’t even really see them,” he plans to say. “I see you. I care about you. And I will represent you with pride.”
Some of those progressive principles Newsom plans to pursue include expanding access to child care and pre-kindergarten programs, extending paid family leave and giving community colleges more money to potentially waive tuition fees.
His first budget address Thursday will offer a glimpse on how they’ll pay for it all, but on Monday he’ll highlight the issues as key aspects of the “California dream” that everyone in the state should be able to achieve.
While Newsom highlighted those goals over and over on the campaign trail, his inaugural offers a chance for the new governor to offer a grand vision for the state he’ll lead for the next four years and a chance to distinguish himself from his predecessor, Brown.
It will be the first time since 1887 that California has had consecutive Democratic governors. The handoff reflects Democrats’ dominance in California politics — the party holds every statewide office and huge majorities in the Legislature.
The new governor will stay Brown’s course in some areas but is likely to push more ambitious and expensive policies related to health care and education. And he’ll be “a little more of a flashy governor than Brown,” said Eric Schickler, a political science professor at the University of California, Berkeley.
Newsom enters office with a strong economy and nearly $30 billion in reserves left from Brown, although a slowing of the national economy could drastically shift the course of Newsom’s governorship.
For now, though, “he comes in in a pretty enviable spot,” Schickler said.
Newsom, 51, is a tailored-suit politician with a mega-watt smile and perfectly coiffed hair. Where Brown kept the media at arm’s length, Newsom courts the spotlight.
The generational change he brings to the governor’s mansion was reflected in the musical headliners for a wildfire victims benefit concert Newsom hosted on Sunday — hip-hop artists Pitbull and Common. The concert raised $5 million.
Earlier in the day, Newsom and his wife, Jennifer Siebel Newsom, held a family-focused event at the California State Railroad Museum after attending a brunch with high-dollar donors.
Siebel Newsom already has created a change in Sacramento political traditions with her preference for the title “first partner” rather than “first lady,” which she said is more inclusive. It’s also reflective of her professional experience as an actress and filmmaker focused on gender politics and inequality.
Jerry Hallisey, a San Francisco lawyer and longtime Newsom family friend who helps with fundraising, said he expects Newsom to pull more expertise from the private sector into his administration than Brown did. Newsom launched a winery in 1992 that grew into the PlumpJack Group, a network of wineries and hospitality businesses that made him a millionaire. He’s placing his controlling interests into a blind trust to avoid conflicts of interest.
Associated Press writers Don Thompson and Jonathan J. Cooper in Sacramento contributed to this report.
The transcript of Newsom’s inauguration speech is below:
The story of our state is the story of a dream – one that has drawn strivers and seekers here forever. It’s what brought my family to California three generations ago – the promise not just of a better life but a bigger one, with opportunities they couldn’t find anywhere else in the world.
So deep does the California Dream run in the history and character of our state that it can feel as enduring as our primeval forests or our majestic mountain ranges. But there is nothing inevitable about it. Every dream depends on the dreamers. It is up to us to renew the California Dream for a new generation. And now more than ever, it is up to us to defend it.
California has always helped write America’s future. And we know the decisions we make would be important at any time. But what we do today is even more consequential, because of what’s happening in our country.
People’s lives, freedom, security, the water we drink, the air we breathe – they all hang in the balance. The country is watching us. The world is waiting on us. The future depends on us. And we will seize this moment.
We will prepare for uncertain times ahead. We will be prudent stewards of taxpayer dollars, pay down debt, and meet our future obligations. And we will build and safeguard the largest fiscal reserve of any state in American history.
But let me be clear: we will be bold. . .
We will prove that people of good faith, and firm will can still come together to achieve big things. We will offer an alternative to the corruption and incompetence in the White House. Our government will be progressive, principled, and always on the side of the people.
This will take courage. That’s a word that means different things to different people. To me, courage means doing what is right even when it is hard. That will be the mission of our Administration.
We will be a “California for All.” We will not be divided between rural and urban or north and south or coastal and inland. We will strive for solidarity and face our most threatening problems – together.
I intend to represent all Californians, not only those who voted for me. I will be a governor for the dock worker in Long Beach, and the farm worker in Lost Hills, the small business owner in Corona, and the teacher in Compton.
I recognize that many in our rural communities believe that Sacramento doesn’t care about them – doesn’t even really see them. Well, I see you. I care about you. And I will represent you with pride.
There is a story we tell about our history, from Sutter’s Mill to Steve Jobs’s garage, about how this is the place where anything is possible. This is the “coast of dreams.” And that’s true. But you shouldn’t have to find gold or make it in the movies or create a billion-dollar start-up to live the California Dream. It is for everyone.
Everyone in California should have a good job with fair pay. Every child should have a great school and a teacher who is supported and respected. Every young person should be able to go to college without crushing debt or to get the training they need to compete and succeed. And every senior should be able to retire with security and live at home with dignity. That is the California Dream. Not to get rich quick or star on the big screen, but to work hard and share in the rewards. To leave a better future for our kids.