Who is Gavin Newsom? California governor and established Democrat who could replace Joe Biden

On the back of Joe Biden's disastrous performance in the US debates, panic has reportedly stricken parts of the Democratic party.

It's even gone as far as unnamed party sources reportedly suggesting replacing Biden in the last weeks before the party's convention - which would confirm him as running in November's election.

A number of names have been floated in the aftermath, but among them, there has been talk that California governor Gavin Newson could be best placed to step into the president's shoes, but who is he and how did he get so close to the top of the Democratic party?


A fourth-generation San Franciscan, Newsom was born in 1967.

Despite growing up with dyslexia, he made it through school and later university.

Also a baseball player, he was good enough to get a partial baseball scholarship to Santa Clara University, where he graduated from, before getting into business.

He was first married to then district attorney Kimberly Guilfoyle, but two years after their divorce he married his current wife Jennifer Siebel - with whom he has four children.

Over the years, his business has grown to encompass restaurants and hotels before he turned his attention to politics.

👉 Click to subscribe to the Sky News Daily wherever you get your podcasts 👈

Political career

Newsom was reported to have started near the bottom of local US politics, on the board of the Parking and Traffic Commission in 1996 in San Francisco.

Local media described the then up-and-comer as a "social liberal and a fiscal watchdog".

He spent a number of years at the coal face of his state's politics, before in 2003 he became mayor of San Francisco of which he served two terms.

Newsom first came to national attention when he backed same-sex marriages, in direct violation of state law.

But despite backlash, his stock continued to rise until in in 2019, he rode a landslide victory to his state's top job, becoming Governor of California.

But his time in charge of the US' most populous state has not been without its problems.

Critics of Newsom point to a poor record across a number of key issues.

This includes notoriously high homelessness - of which California is responsible for one-third of the country's homeless population - along with bad drug problems, immigration issues, law and safety, high taxes, and more.

The next Democratic president?

Described on MNSBC as a "Biden surrogate" because of how often he comes out batting for the party, the governor ticks all the stereotypical boxes of an American president.

Perhaps unlike Biden, in interviews, Newsom has no issues reeling off the facts or trading barbs with Republicans.

In the aftermath of the debate, Newsom raced to his party leader's defence saying: "We have the chance to have the back of this president who's had our back. You don't turn your back."

However, despite his vocal support for Biden, Newsom has never been shy of improving his profile.

Now unable to run for California governor again, he spends some of his time debating high-profile Republicans and is intending to travel across six states "to do my small part" in the election, he said.

Regardless of whether Newsom thinks he's just helping the Democratic Party, he's certainly not harming his own profile this election.

Newsom has spent the last few years building himself into this position, reportedly leaving him well-equipped in terms of fundraising, campaign infrastructure and messaging.

Newsom is also doing the one thing all presidential hopefuls do - he's writing a memoir.

Dyslexia, pandas, King Charles and Donald Trump links

Newsom has severe dyslexia, and has issues reading from pieces of paper in public, or spelling, but this has not hindered the Democrat from delivering often lengthy speeches - which will be from memory.

He even wrote a book about dyslexia after trying, and failing, to find a book to show his own children - all the proceeds of which went to charity.

His mother, who was single and worked multiple jobs to support him and his sister, had kept the diagnosis from him to protect him.

Read more from Sky News:
Biden's 'excruciating' debate performance
Longtime Trump ally loses bid to stay out of jail

Thanks to Newsom's efforts, along with others in the state, California could become the first state to welcome a new pair of giant pandas thanks to conservation collaboration with China.

They could arrive by the end of the summer after the agreement was signed earlier this year.

Back in 2005, as San Francisco mayor, Newsom visited a homelessness project with the then Prince of Wales, Prince Charles, and his wife Camilla.

Meanwhile, Newsom has an odd link to the Trump family, as his ex-wife, Ms Guilfoyle, is now engaged to Donald Trump Jr.

If he does rise to the top of the Democratic party he might end up on the other side to his ex-wife (again).