Gavin Newsom, the front-runner to become California’s next governor, was greeted by a throng of enthusiastic supporters as he made a stop in Modesto on Wednesday to stump for himself, congressional candidate Josh Harder and state Senate candidate Anna Caballero.
“Spend time on Facebook, but also spend some time in someone’s face” on behalf of Democratic values and candidates, Newsom said, standing on a chair as he addressed those packed into Harder’s campaign headquarters on Standiford Avenue.
Several Republicans lined the street out front, waving signs in support of John Cox, Newsom’s GOP opponent in November.
Rather than moping about the way things used to be, Democrats “don’t just talk about it. They actually get out there and accomplish something,” said Newsom, the state’s lieutenant governor since 2010. He previously was mayor of San Francisco.
Homelessness is “the dominant issue” up and down California, Newsom said, and “the ultimate manifestation of our failure.” He also spoke of boosting the business climate.
Newsom, 50, made several light-hearted references to the relative youth of Harder, 32. Newsom praised him for returning to the Valley after earning degrees elsewhere — Stanford and Harvard — and a short career as a venture capitalist.
“The Central Valley has gone ignored and left behind for a long time,” Harder said. He is challenging GOP Rep. Jeff Denham, who was first elected in 2010. The 10th District covers Stanislaus County and the south part of San Joaquin County.
Democratic leaders hope to flip enough seats to regain control of the House. Denham’s is among their top priorities.
Evoking former Democratic congressman Tony Coelho, Harder said, “Once we turn (the area) back blue, we’re going to keep it.”
Harder was joined by his wife of four weeks, Pam, and the spouses of Caballero and Newsom also were on hand. Jennifer Siebel Newsom addressed the crowd in Spanish.
“To have your family behind you makes you a better legislator and a better leader,” said Caballero. She is running to succeed Ceres’ Anthony Cannella in a district stretching from Fresno County to her home base in Salinas.
Garth Stapley: 209-578-2390