Newsom’s moderate course in California angers critics as his national profile rises

The governor antagonized organized labor this year by declaring his opposition to a farmworker unionization bill, which he ultimately supported under pressure from President Joe Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who publicly endorsed it.

His close relationship with Silicon Valley has also divided allies and reinforced the view that he is sympathetic to a major business sector, even as those companies face intensifying blowback over labor practices and privacy issues. And he has done little to shift California to a government-run health care system despite running on the progressive lodestar.

“I do believe he has a business mind. I think his mind leans business, but his heart leans working people and people who are the most vulnerable,” said Tia Orr, executive director of the labor powerhouse SEIU California. “There always are some changes we have to make to be mindful of unintended consequences.”

Some longtime Newsom observers believe he has undergone a fundamental shift. Former adviser Eric Jaye, who broke from Newsom during his mayorship and went on to work for a gubernatorial rival, said Newsom had for years supported “social policies that don’t threaten economic privilege.”


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