Although Mayor Gavin Newsom has spent the past several months stumping for gubernatorial candidate Phil Angelides, he found himself in the awkward position Wednesday of having to offer public praises to Angelides’ Republican rival, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger — for the second time in recent weeks.
It was a boon for the governor, who also shared the media stage with Newsom in late September when he signed an ambitious global warming initiative — a cause near and dear to Newsom’s heart.
Just weeks before the November election, Schwarzenegger has been promoting himself as an agent of bipartisanship and compromise, while Angelides’ campaign accused the actor-turned-politician of being a right-leaning “Bush Republican.”
“He has used a strategy this election cycle, especially here [San Francisco] in the last three months, of making very high-profile announcements with strong Democratic leaders, putting them in the position of snubbing their issue or their base,” San Francisco-based political consultant Jim Ross said.
Newsom was joined by Schwarzenegger at San Francisco International Airport on Wednesday morning to christen the first airplane in the Virgin America fleet. The mayor, coming into an election year himself in 2007, benefited from the announcement that Virgin America had selected San Francisco as its new headquarters for flights within the United States — bringing with it the creation of 1,700 new jobs.
At first, Newsom put a few feet of distance between himself and the Schwarzenegger while the news cameras documented the celebratory moment.
But then Newsom got caught up in the festivities, praising Schwarzenegger during his moment at the microphone.
“Two thousand jobs, governor, that’s not bad, the state’s back on track,” Newsom said.
Soon, Newsom was playfully spraying sparkling wine to christen Virgin’s first plane, and smiling and joking with the governor.
Just before the public announcement, Newsom told The Examiner that although he had received some calls from his Democratic supporters concerned about the endorsement that comes with such a stagedmoment, he said he was grateful that Schwarzenegger had worked to help The City land the Virgin deal.
“This is about jobs, it’s about the economy, it’s about expectations for the future,” Newsom said. “That’s more than worth the politics.”