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San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom announced his run Friday to become California's next lieutenant governor, declaring he'd use the office sometimes billed as "guv lite" to promote what everyone wants: jobs.

Newsom, 42, dropped his bid last October to become the Democratic gubernatorial nominee. He was badly trailing Attorney General Jerry Brown in fundraising and endorsements.

"I have no regrets about dropping out of the governor's race," Newsom told the Bee on Friday morning.

He said he "was looking down the barrel" of a very expensive race with few prospects of raising the kind of cash required.

Plus, he said, at the time he had a newborn baby and felt he couldn't run San Francisco while juggling such monumental fundraising needs.

The lieutenant governor job, widely viewed as a stepping stone to a higher office, isn't going to be as expensive a race.

Newsom said Friday that his baby is older now and his "enthusiastic wife" is backing his decision.

He also said a good friend -- former Assembly Speaker and San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown -- urged him to run. "If there's one big reason that this got back on the radar," Newsom said, "it was Willie's encouragement."

Newsom said he feels his background as a businessman in San Francisco is a plus that's little known that he wants to promote. It could help him build an image beyond being a strong advocate for same-sex marriage and social causes popular among progressive voters.

"I'm not profligate as a progressive," Newsom said. "I come from the private sector. I created over 1,000 jobs."

Newsom will square off in the June primary against Janice Hahn, a Los Angeles city councilwoman from a south-state political family. Sen. Dean Florez, D-Shafter, dropped his bid to run for the nomination Friday and endorsed Newsom.

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, and Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez, D-Los Angeles, also endorsed Newsom.

Newsom said he's not daunted by what could become a north-south showdown against Hahn. He said he drew large crowds at rallies in Southern California when running for governor.

"Our values resonate down there," Newsom said. "I'm going to be down there a lot."


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