Few California governors have entered office with a more ambitious agenda than Gov. Gavin Newsom, whose ascension to the job one year ago was marked by a sense of urgency, an insistence that the times demanded a leader who would multitask in a way his predecessors had not.
“People’s lives, freedom, security, the water we drink, the air we breathe — they all hang in the balance,” Newsom said in his inauguration speech last January. “The country is watching us. The world is waiting on us. The future depends on us. And we will seize this moment.”
As his first year draws to a close, the 52-year-old Democrat can point to a string of high-profile victories in service of a progressive agenda and fortifying California’s political resistance to President Trump. But those achievements are only part of the story. Less known outside of Sacramento is that Newsom has struggled with what some critics believe is an undisciplined and impatient governing style. And even many of those who agree with the governor worry the turbulence could disrupt his ability to fix the state’s most pressing issues: the homeless crisis, access to affordable healthcare and the increasingly unattainable “California Dream.”
The Times spoke with more than two dozen people at the state Capitol who were intimately involved in many of the issues, including legislators and their aides, advocates and lobbyists. While many commended the governor for taking on difficult issues, some who strongly supported his 2018 campaign for governor and his pro-government approach to solving the state’s problems also offered critiques. Some of those allies asked for anonymity to speak freely about the governor, fearing repercussions should they be named.
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