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SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) – Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) handily won re-election over state Sen. Brian Dahle (R-Bieber), the Associated Press projects.

This means Newsom will get to serve a second term as California’s governor. As KRON4 previously reported, there has been speculation that Newsom may not finish this term if he decides to run for president in 2024. The governor has made several moves this year to raise his national profile, such as buying ads in Republican-controlled states criticizing their policies on abortion and gun regulation.

Newsom crushed a recall effort last year driven by his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. Conservatives were upset at Newsom’s lockdown policies they said were too harsh. Democrats widely defended them, saying they were necessary to save lives from the virus.

Before becoming California’s governor, Newsom served as lieutenant governor and as a San Francisco mayor and city supervisor, representing the Marina neighborhood.

Newsom hardly campaigned, instead using some of the tens of millions of dollars in his campaign account to pay for ads in other states on gun control, abortion rights and other issues as part of his attempt to reshape the national Democratic Party’s message.

He wants Democrats to be more aggressive, believing they have ceded the political narrative to Republicans. It’s a strategy that has gotten him lots of media coverage and increased speculation that he plans to run for president.

“He’s already moved past his reelect. He’s focused on being a leader of his party nationally and positioning himself for a White House run,” said Rob Stutzman, a California-based Republican political consultant.

Newsom has consistently denied he’s planning to run for president, saying he supports President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, a fellow Californian and good friend. During the only debate of the campaign last month, Newsom promised to serve a full four-year term if he’s reelected.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.