When White House hopeful John Kerry lost to President Bush in 2004, many laid blame on Mayor Gavin Newsom, saying the same-sex weddings he authorized earlier in the year prompted a conservative backlash from voters.
Four years and a historic California Supreme Court decision later, same-sex marriages and Newsom — who has said he is considering a 2010 bid for governor — are back in the news during a presidential campaign season.
On Tuesday, Newsom said he wasn’t thinking about the politics of same-sex marriages, although he said he’ll campaign against a constitutional ban that will be on the ballot in November.
“I have to. I’m so identified with it,” he said.
California voters have warmed to same-sex marriages, according to a Field Poll released in May. Among registered voters, 54 percent surveyed opposed altering the state constitution to ban same-sex marriages.
Mark DiCamillo, director of the Field Poll, said Newsom might not feel political side effects of the court ruling in support of same-sex marriage until voters have had their say.
“Certainly the fate of the constitutional amendment has an effect on how [Newsom is] received,” DiCamillo said.
The political landscape is different four years later, said University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato, who predicted that same-sex marriage won’t be the same wedge issue this campaign season.