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By Phil Willon
March 13, 2016

Welcome to your guide to the 2018 California governor’s race. The election may be far away, but listening tours are already underway, political consultants are doling out advice and pundits are handicapping favorites and wildcards.

Here are the players to keep an eye on

Gavin Newsom

Top jobs: California’s lieutenant governor since 2010. Elected mayor of San Francisco in 2003 and reelected in 2007.

Biggest splash: Newsom, a Democrat, created a national firestorm as San Francisco mayor in 2004 when he ordered the city to issue same-sex marriage licenses.

Baggage: While mayor, he had an affair with his campaign manager’s wife.

Particulars: Newsom, 48, lives in Marin County with his wife and four children. He is a graduate of Santa Clara University.

Newsom launched his campaign for governor in February 2015 and thus far is the only major candidate raising money.

Since announcing his bid, Newsom proposed a statewide initiative to toughen California gun laws and threw his support behind another measure to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. Both initiatives could go before state voters in November.

Newsom ran for governor in the 2010 election but dropped out of the race after the entry of Democratic rival Jerry Brown, who went on to win the election. He ran for the lower-profile lieutenant governor’s office instead.

Newsom gained national attention when he was mayor of San Francisco for directing the city to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples in 2004. The event was a catalyst for a nationwide political wrangle over the issue that ended when the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the right of gays to marry in 2015.

As mayor, Newsom also launched the country’s first universal healthcare initiative.

Status: He’s running.

To read expanded column, click here.