LOS ANGELES (CN) – Surrounded by French dip sandwiches and iced teas, gubernatorial candidate Gavin Newsom grabbed a bite to eat in downtown Los Angeles on Friday and secured the endorsement from a former Democratic opponent amid the afternoon lunch rush.
Newsom, the current California lieutenant governor and former mayor of San Francisco, secured a comfortable 33 percent of the votes in the crowded gubernatorial race earlier this month and will face off against San Diego County businessman and Republican candidate John Cox in the November general election.
President Donald Trump tweeted his support for Cox before the June 5 primaries. Cox shares Trump’s hard-line stance on immigration and that includes building a wall along the California-Mexico border.
Former Democratic candidate John Chiang, who came in fourth place in the primaries behind Cox and Antonio Villaraigosa, was joined by his supporters on Friday when he endorsed Newsom.
“We have to make sure we elect someone who understands diversity, that is the hallmark, that is the celebration of what California stands for,” said Chiang, the California state treasurer.
Newsom thanked Chiang and his supporters, who filled out Philippe’s sandwich shop in downtown Los Angeles.
“I want to compliment all of those that are here,” Newsom said. He added bluntly that Chiang’s endorsement would not stop at the sandwich shop.
“I need him. John, I need you,” Newsom said. “I need your support in this election. You’re not getting away with just doing this. I need you out in the community.”
“I’ll be there,” Chiang said.
Last week, Newsom secured an endorsement from Villaraigosa just down the street from Philippe’s at Homegirl Cafe. Villaraigosa came in a distant third in the gubernatorial primary, but two Democrats could have technically competed in the November ballot, due to California’s “jungle system” that allows the top two primary vote-getters to appear on the general ballot.
The California gubernatorial race will be framed as one in opposition to Trump’s policies and Newsom said that will include winning lower races and working together with other members in the Democratic Party. Newsom said the lunch endorsement is a message of cohesion.
“It is incredibly important that this party unify,” Newsom said.
The politicians posed for photos with lunch-goers in between bites, including Wendi Klaiber, Michelle Bergman and Stella Erbes, educators who said they didn’t know about Newsom’s visit in advance.
“But we told him we care about education and we hope he does too,” Bergman said.
Fernando Arroyas, from Local 2361 Carpenters’ Union, asked Newsom during his press conference what he thinks about unions.
“This is a union state,” Newsom said.
Arroyas said it was a nice sentiment. Arroyas supported former Los Angeles Mayor Villaraigosa in the governor’s race.
“But now I’ll have to run it to my union rep to see who we would support. It would likely be Newsom,” Arroyas said.
Jimmie Woods-Gray, a Chiang supporter, says she will back Newsom because she could not picture a Republican governor representing California’s values at this time.
“It’s a very big deal that John Chiang stepped up for Gavin Newsom. Because we need a Democrat to be there for the people,” Woods-Gray said. “We do not endorse the values that the Republican Party stands for.”