Josh Goodman is a former staff writer for GOVERNING..E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
I'm sure I'm not the first person to point this out -- I'm probably not among the first hundred -- but doesn't the passage of Prop. 8 have to doom Gavin Newsom's gubernatorial ambitions, at least for 2010?
Newsom, San Francisco's mayor, is an enthusiastic supporter of gay marriage. It was Newsom's decision to start issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples which set off the court battle that eventually led the California Supreme Court to legalize gay marriage.
That by itself doesn't doom Newsom. Forty-eight percent of California voters agree with his position. Without a doubt, most of the other 52% will have other issues they care about more than gay marriage in 2010. In fact, I'd be very surprised if the Democratic nominee for governor doesn't support gay marriage.
Newsom's problem is the particular role he played in the Prop. 8 debate. Newsom had a starring role in the ads from the supporters of the gay marriage ban. In effect, Prop. 8's supporters bet that Newsom was a sufficiently polarizing figure that video of him supporting gay marriage would lead voters to take the opposite view.
Whether it's true or not, the perception is that the bet paid off. Prop. 8's poll numbers improved after the Newsom ads aired. Ultimately, of course, it passed.
Newsom's problem in a Democratic primary was always going to be questions about his electability. Now a lot of people have a lot more reason to believe that the San Francisco mayor can't win statewide. And, after seven years of Gov. Schwarzenegger, the last thing Democrats will want to do is nominate a loser.
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