Gavin Newsom quits California governor's race - Moonbeam stands alone

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom on Friday said that he would not be running for governor of the state of California.

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    Well, it looks like any debate between Gavin Newsom (right) and Jerry Brown (not pictured) is not going to happen next year. Newsom announced today he will not run for governor.
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Could it be that Republicans are just so unbelievably popular in California that no Democrats dare run for the office of governor?

Well, no. But with today's announcement that San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom is withdrawing from the race, it drops the number of Democrats running for the office to zero.

That's not to say there's no interest. It just means that former Governor Jerry Brown will have one fewer Democratic candidate to face in next year's primary.

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It's the family...

Newsom sounded like Brett Favre (minus the crying) in announcing his retirement from seeking the state's top job. He used the familiar "spending more time with his family" refrain in his statement.

"With a young family and responsibilities at city hall, I have found it impossible to commit the time required to complete this effort the way it needs to -- and should be -- done," he said. "This is not an easy decision. But it is one made with the best intentions for my wife, my daughter, the residents of the city and county of San Francisco, and California Democrats."

Bleak prospects

There's the family angle and then there's the "I'm going to lose so find a way to escape now without looking bad" angle. Jerry Brown is clobbering him in early polls. A recent California Field Poll showed the unannounced Brown leading by 20 points (47 percent to 27 percent).

And then there's the money thing. Brown has outraised Newsom by a 7 - 1 margin and even an appearance from former President Bill Clinton on behalf of Newsom failed to raise any real money.

It was Clinton's appearance this early in the campaign that led astute campaign watchers to surmise that Newsom was in trouble.

"The former president has been known to work wonders as a closer, yet tapping him as an opener instead almost proves that Newsom’s flame is in danger of going out," wrote Newsweek's Daniel Stone earlier this month.

Wide open field

Although Brown now has the field to himself, it's not likely to stay that way. Longtime Republican strategist and current senior advisor to GOP candidate Meg Whitman's campaign Rob Stutzman told The Vote that Brown won't run unopposed.

"Newsom's departure leaves a vacuum I'd bet gets filled," Stutzman said. "[LA Mayor Antonio] Villaraigosa, [State Treasurer Bill] Lockyer, and Rep. [Jane] Harman have to take a look at this race again. It's a joke if California Democrats just hand their nomination to Moonbeam."

Brown released a brief statement on Newsom's departure from the race. "Mayor Newsom is a talented public official and I believe he has a bright future. I am sure this was not an easy decision," he said.

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