Gavin Newsom Is on the 2024 TIME100 List

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The California governor’s mansion has a history of catapulting ambitious politicians onto the national stage. Earl Warren left Sacramento in 1953 and remade the Supreme Court, overturning school segregation and expanding civil rights. Ronald Reagan rode a conservative wave from Hollywood all the way to the White House.

Now it’s Gavin Newsom’s turn to see how far from Sacramento that West Coast power can carry one. He first gained national prominence two decades ago as the San Francisco mayor issuing same-sex-marriage licenses before virtually anyone else. As governor, he’s struggled to head off homelessness and street crime. But he’s emerged as a defender of liberal values and relishes mixing it up with Republicans. At a Fox News debate in the fall, he gleefully mocked Florida Governor Ron DeSantis for trying to “out-Trump Trump” and losing.

Amid pressure for Democrats to trade in Joe Biden, Newsom has instead adopted the role of full-throated attack dog for the 81-year-old President. That’s helped put Newsom, 56, on a short list of Democratic contenders for the White House in 2028.

Bennett is TIME’s senior White House correspondent

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