Democrat Gavin Newsom was a bi-partisan punching bag at the gubernatorial debate last night, as both Democrats and Republicans vying to be the top two vote getters in the June 5 primary ripped into him personally and politically.
Yet even as they went after Newsom, the front runner and current lieutenant governor, in remarkably personal terms, the two Republican candidates also savaged each other.
California has eliminated party primaries; instead Democrats and Republicans run in the same contest and whoever finishes first and second, regardless of party, compete against each other in the general election.
The other candidates, three Democrats and two Republicans, put the former San Francisco mayor “through his paces again and again,” according to the Los Angeles Times.
Former Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, a Democrat, chided Newsom for fixating on Donald Trump at the expense of local issues. “Talking and tweeting about Trump every day is not going to solve problems, it’s not going to fix our healthcare or our schools,” he said.
Although Democrats often avoid attacking each other for marital infidelities, one Democratic candidate, educator Delaine Eastin, went after Newsom and Villaraigosa for their extra marital affairs. As San Francisco mayor, Newsom cavorted with the wife of his campaign manager, who quit when the affair was revealed.
When Villaraigosa was Los Angeles mayor he dallied with a journalist for the Spanish language station Telemundo.
“I do believe that character does matter,’’ Eastin said. “At the end of the day, it is inappropriate for any boss in any businesses or any government agency to make passes at women that work for them.”
Republican Assemblyman Travis Allen piled on, asking rhetorically, “If you can’t trust Gavin with his best friend’s wife, why would you trust him with your state?”
Newsom hit back, saying that as “an avowed supporter of Donald Trump”—known for alleged marriage infidelities and frequently accused of sexual harassment—he wasn’t one to talk.
“It’s hard, with respect, to hear from Mr. Allen — who’s a devout supporter of Donald Trump — talk about the issue of sexual harassment.”
As for his own womanizing, Newsom said, “I was honest about it, I was open about it. I apologized for it.”
Villaraigosa was similarly contrite. “I made a mistake, he conceded. “I lost my marriage,’’ he said. “I do believe that character matters.
“I tried to make amends to my city [which] lost some confidence in me.”
During the 90 minute debate, Newsom was attacked by both Democrats and Republicans for his policy on illegal immigrants as San Francisco mayor. Both Republican candidates blasted him for making San Fran a sanctuary city.
Allen blamed “Gavin Newsom and California Democrats” for the shooting death of a young woman by an illegal immigrant who had been deported again and again.
Newsom called Allen’s charge “shameful” and objected to the politicization of the killing of Kate Steinle.
But on the left, State Treasurer John Chiang accused Newsom of turning over an illegal immigrant child to federal authorities as San Francisco mayor.
Newsom did not respond to the broadside.
Chiang, who polled just 9% in March, accused both of the former mayors of “criminalizing” homelessness in their cities.
Besides sparing with their Democratic opponents, the two Republicans, Allen and San Diego businessman John Cox, also ripped into each other.
Allen called Cox, who is a builder, “slumlord” and depicted him as a carpetbagger. He said of the California transplant, “I just want to respond to my angry opponent from Chicago.”
Both Republicans, however, found common ground in opposing California’s sanctuary law, which the Dems favored, and supporting Donald Trump’s proposed wall on the United States-Mexico border.
The “wall needs to be built. It’s not about grandmothers being pulled out of their homes,” Cox contended. “I don’t want to live next door to MS-13 gang members.”
Newsom responded, “This is the kind of rhetoric that has no place” in the debate. In the golden state, “we don’t tolerate diversity, we celebrate it.”
Quite appropriate for somebody who Tuesday evening was on the receiving end of ideologically diverse smackdowns.