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Gavin Newsom kicked off a statewide bus tour Monday in the Santa Clarita Valley to bolster fellow Democrats in California’s contested congressional races, saying the party’s efforts to retake control of the House with President Trump in the White House was just as critical to the state as his campaign to become its next governor.

The Democratic front-runner headed first to the Santa Clarita Valley for a tour stop in Stevenson Ranch to support Katie Hill, who is trying to unseat two-term incumbent Rep. Steve Knight (R-Palmdale). A former director of a nonprofit assisting the homeless, Hill was praised by Newsom for providing a “positive alternative agenda to Donald Trump.”

Newsom insisted he wasn’t taking his gubernatorial bid for granted by focusing on down-ballot races — he leads Republican John Cox in the polls and fundraising. And while he groused that the governor’s race was shadowed by daily eruptions in Washington, the lieutenant governor said the future of California and the nation rests largely in the outcome of the midterm congressional elections.

“It would not be much of a victory, from my perspective, winning the governor’s race and continuing the status quo as it relates to Trump,” Newsom said after the rally.

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