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Monday, January 17, 2011

Newsom Mania Comes to an End

Posted By on Mon, Jan 17, 2011 at 7:40 AM


Now that Gavin Newsom has finally cut the cord and left San Francisco, one can only wonder how long it will be before we see his face on TV again.

It's been well-stated that for such an ambitious politician, Newsom landed a politically impotent position as California's lieutenant governor. And as a reporter who trailed the mayor for a year, it's hard to imagine how San Francisco's celebrity politician is coping without the one thing that truly makes him thrive: the media.

It's true that Newsom is full of big ideas, but it's his ability to attract masses of people -- and throngs of cameras -- that has propelled him politically.  On any given day, reporters would wait -- however long it took -- for him to make an appearance at some unnewsworthy event, just to catch a canned quote from the mayor.  

Newsom's popularity in San Francisco, at times, even took him by surprise. There was the time he showed up at an elementary school in the Richmond District for an earthquake safety event. When he stepped out the back door of the school during recess, students who were too young to even care who he was swarmed him. 

You could see Newsom was overwhelmed. Sweat dripped from his brow as the mayor, like any good rock star, stayed there for more than an hour, signing autographs for a few hundred students on a sugar high. And when he ran out of paper, he kept going, scribbling his name across their hands and t-shirts. 

But as of late, Newsom has had to face the harsh reality that he, as a politician, is no longer important in media circles. There is more news happening at the state Capitol than there are reporters to cover the fast-paced politics of Sacramento. So it's not surprising that a politically irrelevant position like lieutenant governor won't be part of the daily news cycle.

We will watch his perfectly preened figure fall into the shadows of more prominent state leaders. Perhaps this is exactly what Newsom -- and the rest of us -- needs: four years, Newsom-free.  

The only media interview Newsom has had since he left San Francisco five days ago was with the Chronicle. Even then, he got little ink. In a brief Q&A, he talks about how little his staff is, laments his smaller budget, and compares himself to a startup company, presumably one with more ideas than money to spend.

Maybe this is part of why Newsom overstayed his welcome in San Francisco -- he needed one last week in the limelight. 

Newsom irritated political circles alike when he delayed his swearing-in as lieutenant governor, claiming he had some unfinished business to take care of here. It was one final move that let Newsom take a punch at the progressives, but it was also a final week where he dominated the headlines.

It was about this time that one political insider told the Snitch, "He's just exhausting to watch."

And now we can rest. 

Follow us on Twitter at @TheSnitchSF and @SFWeekly  

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About The Author

Erin Sherbert

Erin Sherbert

Erin Sherbert was the Online News Editor for SF Weekly from 2010 to 2015. She's a Texas native and has a closet full of cowboy boots to prove it.


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