In a speech that came as a surprise to absolutely no one, least of all the candidate himself, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom heralded his decisive first place victory in tonight’s primary election for governor, while pointing the way toward the general election match-up he now faces against the opponent he hoped would win the second spot in the top-two primary.
Between references to Tupac (he walked on stage to the song “California Love”) Kendrick Lamar, and Robert F. Kennedy, who was assassinated exactly 50 years ago tonight after winning the California primary, the lieutenant governor also made sure to direct a few sharp words toward the man who will be his opponent in the general election, Republican John Cox.
“Our values, as you know, are under assault,” said Newsom, offering a flavor of the general election rhetoric to come. “We’re engaged in an epic battle and it looks like voters will have a real choice this November between a governor who is going to stand up to Donald Trump and a foot soldier in his war on California.”
To that, the crowd eagerly hissed and booed.
“These days too many politicians want to tell us what can’t be done,” Newsom told an enthusiastic crowd in his own nightclub in San Francisco’s SoMa district, repeating a favorite phrase from the campaign trail. “But our can-do campaign painted in bold colors and big ideas.”
It was a brief speech that cycled through the lieutenant governor’s greatest hits. He reiterated his support for a single-payer health insurance system, inveighed against income and wealth inequality and called for a reinvestment in public education.
“The state of California has always been America’s coming attraction. Millions of destinies connected by one dream: to be whoever you want to be. A state where we don’t criminalize diversity, we celebrate diversity.”
No doubt many in the audience had heard the soaring rhetoric before, just as Newsom had delivered it all before. Neither seemed to mind.
“This is not a victory speech,” the candidate insisted. He wondered aloud what his late mother would think: “If she was here, trust me, she’d said ‘congratulations, now get off the stage and get back to work!’ “