Trouble In The Water: SF Pols Slide in State Races

The California Lieutenant Governor's race has tightened unexpectedly with SF mayor Gavin Newsom leading by just 4 percentage points in the latest polling:

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom's lead over his Republican opponent in the race for lieutenant governor has shrunk to four percentage points, down from nine points two months ago, a Field Poll has found.

Newsom is far better known than Maldonado, but voters also tend to view the San Francisco mayor positively or negatively depending on their party affiliation. He leads among Democrats with 65 percent of the vote, but just 4 percent of likely GOP voters said they would support him. Maldonado only receives support from 11 percent of likely Democratic voters, but gets backing from 69 percent of Republicans. Nonpartisans also prefer Newsom to Maldonado - 41 to 28 percent - but nearly one-third are still undecided.

"In this race what you have are very different image ratings of the two candidates - Newsom is clearly better known ... and it's true in any contest that the better known candidate polls better," DiCamillo said. "The question is what will happen when Maldonado becomes almost universally known, which will happen before the election. I'm sure Newsom's campaign is trying to get the word out and define who Maldonado is before he defines himself."

Voter images of the two candidates are also telling: 41 percent have a negative image of Newsom, compared with 17 percent for Maldonado. But 47 percent have no opinion of Maldonado.

"Newsom will have a tough time winning any support among Republicans ... but he's doing so well with the other 65 percent (of likely voters) he may not need them," DiCamillo said.

That's a pretty surprising result, inasmuch as Newsom is the telegenic, nationally known "next Kennedy" while Maldonado was last seen enabling the sort of tax & debt budget deal that the voters have been revolting against.

I'm honestly torn about this election. On the one hand, Newsom is a SF Democrat. On the other, Maldonado is practically the poster boy for the sort of moderate Republican squishes who have enabled so much of the destructive policies wrought by the state's progressive politicians. In addition to providing the crucial third GOP vote for the "Debt & Taxes" budget deal that was rejected in last year's Special Election, he was also behind the open primaries initiative from last month. The man simply can't be trusted to stand firm for anything beyond his own re-election. At least I know where Newsom's coming from.

Still, this year - of all years - demands a firm rejection of anything liberal, and Maldonado at least is nominally a Republican. Plus, Governor Whitman doesn't need some pretty boy lieutenant governor grandstanding every time she time she tries to reform the pension system. Not sure how hard Maldonado is willing to fight - the guy looks like one of those simps who doesn't like "negative" campaigning - but surely he recognizes he has a rare chance to bump off one of the Dems' stars of tomorrow, and will act accordingly.

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