SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, who gained national attention as mayor of San Francisco for ordering then-illegal gay marriage licenses to be issued, said Wednesday that he will begin raising money to run for governor in 2018, a position he has long sought.
The announcement from the 47-year-old Democrat comes just a few months after he was re-elected to a second four-year term as the state's second-highest elected official. Newsom said last month that he would not pursue a U.S. Senate seat, creating anticipation he would seek the state's top post.
The former mayor of San Francisco has been a controversial national figure since 2004 when he ordered the San Francisco city clerk to ignore state law at the time and issue marriage licenses to gay couples.
In a written announcement Wednesday, Newsom says he passionately believes "in the future of this great state." He said that although California has reigned in its finances, it still faces daunting long-term challenges in creating private-sector jobs, investing in public education and keeping college affordable.
"The reality of running for governor - even four years from now - in America's largest, most diverse state demands that I start raising resources now if we're going to lead a conversation worthy of the 38 million people who live, work, attend school and raise families in the Golden State," he said.
Newsom launched a brief campaign for governor before dropping out in 2009 as then-Attorney General Jerry Brown sought the position.
He has more than $3 million remaining in his campaign for lieutenant governor after cruising to re-election in November.
Gavin Newsom to raise money for California governor bid