Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom is projected to win the race for California governor, while former U.S. Ambassador to Hungary Eleni Kounalakis is projected to win the lieutenant governor race as of press time at 12:23 a.m. Wednesday.
Newsom received 57.3 percent of the vote and is projected to beat Republican candidate John Cox, who received 42.7 percent, with 52 percent of precincts reporting. Kounalakis is leading against fellow Democratic candidate Ed Hernandez, receiving 56.8 percent of the vote with 52 percent of precincts reporting.
Newsom’s platform prioritized economic development through job creation and decreasing poverty, providing greater access to high-quality education, protecting the environment and resisting efforts by President Donald Trump’s administration to “take us backwards,” according to his website.
“I want to congratulate each and every one of you because you stood for courage — courage for a change,” Newsom said to a crowd of supporters during his victory speech. “Now I can stand before you knowing I will have the incredible privilege of serving as your next governor.”
As mayor of San Francisco from 2004 to 2011, Newsom supported immigration reform to allow a pathway to citizenship as well as the city’s sanctuary status for undocumented immigrants. He also allowed same-sex marriage, advanced a plan to reduce carbon emissions, passed the nation’s first plastic bag ban and brought universal health care to the city.
While serving as lieutenant governor, Newsom defended Planned Parenthood, supported paid family leave and facilitated the termination of offshore drilling operations and the closing of the state’s last nuclear plant. He was also a proponent of “Safety for All,” a proposition that strengthened California’s gun laws in an effort to prevent dangerous people from obtaining guns and ammunition.
Former president Barack Obama, Gov. Jerry Brown and several news organizations, such as the Los Angeles Times and the San Francisco Chronicle, endorsed Newsom.
In line to be lieutenant governor after Newsom’s term ends, Kounalakis emphasized affordable higher education in her campaign for the position. The lieutenant governor sits on the University of California Board of Regents and the California State University Board of Trustees. Her goals include growing the economy, increasing the number of well-paying jobs and achieving universal health care, according to her website.
“Today Californians made history by electing Ambassador Eleni Kounalakis Lt. Governor of California,” stated a press release from Kounalakis’ team. “She is the first woman ever elected Lt. Governor in the state’s history.”
Before running for lieutenant governor, Kounalakis was a businesswoman — she earned an MBA from UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business and served as president of her family’s housing development firm. She later became the U.S. Ambassador to Hungary under Obama and worked for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election.
Trump-endorsed Cox ran on repealing the new vehicle license and gas tax increases, challenging special-interest groups, supporting charter schools and rejecting “Newsom’s ‘sanctuary state’ policies that have allowed violent criminal aliens to escape prosecution,” according to his website. During the campaign, Cox emphasized that he is not a politician.
In addition to an endorsement from Trump, Cox was endorsed by U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy and former U.S. secretary of state Condoleezza Rice.
Cox raised about $11 million in campaign contributions since the beginning of the year, compared to Newsom, who raised about $26.5 million, according to the secretary of state website. For the lieutenant gubernatorial race, Kounalakis raised more than $7 million in campaign contributions, while Hernandez raised almost $1.7 million.
Hernandez ran on education investment and, similar to Kounalakis, job creation. According to his website, he also supports immigrants’ rights, saying he believes the United States should “embrace, promote, and celebrate” diversity within the country.
As a state senator, Hernandez advanced workers’ rights and led California’s opposition to Trump’s effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.
“This victory is really your victory,” Newsom said during his speech. “Because of you, the future belongs to California.”