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Now leaving the station: Gavin Newsom's support for high-speed rail.

The Democratic lieutenant governor doesn't typically align with Republicans. But during an appearance on a conservative radio program, Newsom embraced a position that Republicans have championed in Sacramento: Reallocating voter-approved high-speed rail bond money toward other projects.

"I would take the dollars and redirect it to other, more pressing infrastructure needs," Newsom said during an appearance on the Seattle-based Ben Shapiro Show on AM 770 KTTH.

That puts Newsom at odds with Gov. Jerry Brown, who has substantially lashed his legacy to the embattled project. The Brown administration recently asked the California Supreme Court to intervene in a legal dispute over the train's funding plan, and a lower court is poised to reconsider the issue.

But Newsom reflected public skepticism about the high-speed rail. A 2011 Field Poll found nearly two-thirds of voters advocated another vote on a $9 billion bond issue for the project, with a clear majority saying they would vote down the funding measure voters had passed in 2008.

"I am not the only Democrat that feels this way," Newsom said during his radio appearance. "I gotta tell you, I am one of the few that just said it publicly. Most are now saying it privately."

Over the last few years, Newsom's public position on the state-spanning bullet train has gradually shifted. In 2011, he pronounced himself "extraordinarily excited" about the undertaking.

"I personally have been supportive of the high-speed rail project since my time as mayor of the city and county of San Francisco," Newsom said, going on to tout the project's job-generating capacity and its role in moving goods and people around the state.

By 2013 he appeared distinctly less enthusiastic. During a talk at the Milken Institute Global Conference last May, Newsom said that "more and more legitimate questions are being raised" about the rail project.

"I think we have to be sober about this," he added.

PHOTO: Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks before Gov. Jerry Brown delivers the 2014 State of the State address to a joint session of the Legislature on Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014 at the State Capitol. The Sacramento Bee/Hector Amezcua.


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