In recent years, Mayor Gavin Newsom has jetted around the globe spreading the gospel of San Francisco to foreign businessmen, lobbying Washington, D.C., politicos and global municipal leaders while raising his national and global profile as he prepares for life after City Hall.
From Manila, Philippines, to the District of Columbia to Davos, Switzerland, and Israel, the charismatic, 40-year-old mayor has swapped worldly ideas, honed his national platforms and built alliances that might someday serve as a springboard to higher office.
Developing a network of ideas between regions is undoubtedly a focus of such trips, according to University of San Francisco political professor Corey Cook.
Cook said the boost to the mayor’s profile is “clearly a byproduct” of the travels.
An Examiner review of Newsom’s public schedule and acting-mayor appointments reveal that he has picked up his travel during the last two years.
Some of the trips have been viewed with skepticism by his critics. In January 2007, members of the Board of Supervisors blasted Newsom for choosing the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, over the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Washington, D.C. He also took a personal trip to Hawaii in November, just days following the Cosco Busan oil spill.
Since September 2006, he has made several visits to New York City, including a trip to participate in former President Bill Clinton’s annual Global Initiative gathering. In 2007, he flew to Davos, Chicago, the British Virgin Islands and Osaka, Japan, among other places, according to his office.
He has visited Washington, D.C., at least three times to meet with Sen. Dianne Feinstein and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, which has helped bring federal funds to The City, according to his office.
Additionally, the mayor also dropped in to Iowa and Nevada in 2007 and Texas in 2008 to lend support to the presidential campaign of Sen. Hillary Clinton.
Newsom will be at the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Miami from today through Monday.
Newsom defended his travel, saying lobbying for San Francisco outside of The City was “a big part of being mayor.”
“I usually think people look askew at [the travel] and they criticize it,” he said. “But when you look at when we go back to D.C. and we’re advocating to not stop Ryan White [AIDS] care, we were able to deliver.”
Garry South, a Democratic political consultant who worked for former Gov. Gray Davis, said travel and being an ambassador are necessary components of being “a governor or a mayor.”
The City’s high-profile ambassador
Mayor Gavin Newsom has made at least 30 trips out of the state since 2005, for both personal reasons and city business. Among trips he has taken as mayor:
Ireland, Shanghai, Hong Kong
Davos, Switzerland; Manila, Philippines; New York City
Utah; Davos, Switzerland; Osaka, Japan; Chicago; New York City; Washington, D.C.
Israel; Davos, Switzerland; Washington, D.C.; Texas