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Politics

Newsom Says He Won't Run For U.S. Senate

California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom is seen smiling while speaking at the California Democrats State Convention in Los Angeles on March 8, 2014.
Associated Press
California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom is seen smiling while speaking at the California Democrats State Convention in Los Angeles on March 8, 2014.

California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday he won't run for the open U.S. Senate seat created by Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer's retirement next year.

Newsom, who served eight years as mayor of San Francisco, would have been considered a top contender for the job. His exit certainly provides encouragement for others contemplating a run for the Senate, and his statement did nothing to dampen the idea he would run for governor in 2018 — when current Gov. Jerry Brown's term ends.

"I know that my head and my heart, my young family's future, and our unfinished work all remain firmly in the State of California — not Washington, D.C. Therefore I will not seek election to the U.S. Senate in 2016," said Newsom, who has three young children.

Newsom, 47, took the weekend to shape his response to Thursday's announcement from Boxer that she would be retiring from the Senate after her fourth term concludes. The race creates a rare opening that is already attracting interest from such names as former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Tom Steyer, a retired San Francisco hedge fund billionaire who sought to make climate change an issue in the midterm elections.

Newsom launched a brief campaign for governor before dropping out in 2009. He garnered national attention when he ordered the San Francisco city clerk in 2004 to ignore state law at the time and issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Newsom's actions led to the legal cases that legalized gay marriage in California.

Larry Gerston, a political science professor at San Jose State University, said Newsom's announcement was hardly surprising. He said Newsom has had other opportunities to run for a House seat, but passed.

"He's an executive branch kind of guy," Gerston said. "You can expect him to run for governor in 2018 without any question."