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Gavin Newsom elected California lieutenant governor

November 3, 2010 | 12:37 am

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San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom will be the state's next lieutenant governor after defeating incumbent Republican Abel Maldonado on Tuesday. Newsom began the campaign season as a candidate for governor, but left that race after failing to make headway against Democrat Jerry Brown. 

Newsom will now assume a job he once derided as powerless before running  for the job. The lieutenant governor serves as a member of the University of California Board of Regents and California State University Board of Trustees, as well as other boards and commissions. But the job has relatively few constitutional responsibilities and is seen largely as a way station for ambitious politicians. The three men who held the job prior to Maldonado -- Democrats John Garamendi, Cruz Bustamante and Gray Davis -- have all run for governor.

Newsom became a lightning rod for criticism in recent years during the state's high-profile debates over same-sex marriage. Newsom angered gay-marriage opponents when he began issuing marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples at San Francisco City Hall in 2004. That led to several court battles and culminated in 2008's Proposition 8, which amended the state constitution to ban same-sex unions.

Newsom will have to leave his post as San Francisco mayor to take his new job. His successor will be elected by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.

Maldonado assumed the job earlier this year, after being appointed to the post by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Maldonado took over for Garamendi, who was elected to Congress in a special election late last year.

-- Anthony York

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Photo credit: Bret Hartman / AP

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