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Governor Gavin Newsom loses his top aide, taps into two key advisors

Governor Gavin Newsom loses his top aide, taps into two key advisors

Governor Gavin Newsom loses a top aide and appoints two advisors to key roles in his office after voters give him a second term.

Jim Debow, Newsom’s executive secretary, said Tuesday that he will step down after two years in the most powerful position in the governor’s administration. Dana Williamson, a Sacramento political strategist and former Cabinet Secretary to Governor Jerry Brown, takes over as Newsom’s chief adviser at the beginning of the year.

Annalia Patterson, Newsom’s former Minister of Legal Affairs, will also move from representation to permanent secretary of the Cabinet and will continue to oversee state agencies. Patterson replaces Anna Matosantos, who left management earlier this fall, in a job that has traditionally been considered the second most important role.

The staffing changes represent another round of departure for the governor who is appointing his third chief of staff and has seen a major change in other key positions since taking office.

Williamson is known in the state capitol as a veteran hand of Brown, first as a first chancellor and then as a cabinet secretary.

She runs her own company, Grace Public Affairs, where she works as a government relations consultant and political strategist on ballot action campaigns, including online sports betting Proposition 27 on the 2022 ballot, and local and state races. Her client history includes California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara, a former Atty. General Xavier Becerra, Comcast and California for Safety and Justice. She also worked at home as Director of Public Affairs for Pacific Gas and Electric Company.

Williamson said she plans to cut financial ties with her company while working with the governor.

It is entering a time of transition from years of flowing budgets to potential economic turmoil with signs of a national recession on the horizon. Newsom said he plans to continue trying to weed out homelessness, housing and crime issues in his second term, while also focusing on implementing key policies that he and the legislature enacted in his first four years.

“I think the governor is now in a place where he can really work on doing a lot of the things he’s put in and I’d love nothing more than to put my head down and get [things] Williamson, who is appreciated by the governor for her irrational and often direct approach, according to Newsom insiders.

Newsom originally chose a longtime aide to Hillary Clinton, Ann O’Leary, as his first chief of staff after defeating Republican John Cox in the 2018 general election. Although O’Leary had little political experience in Sacramento at the time, her political experience It aligns with the governor’s desire to focus on early education during his first term.

O’Leary stepped down at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in late 2020 after directing the state through the governor’s stay-at-home order, restrictions on businesses and social gatherings, and attempts to limit transmission of the virus to protect hospital capacity.

With the expectation that a subpoena would qualify at the time, DeBoo was hired with campaign experience to help Newsom rule through difficult political waters and understand Sacramento’s internal workings that could improve the governor’s relationships with the state legislature and outside interest groups.

DeBoo stayed during Newsom’s re-election and said he’s taking a breather before knowing his next steps. DeBoo was a political advisor to the governor and worked on ballot procedure campaigns before returning to government.

He and Williamson were part of a Sacramento co-op that often worked side-by-side and shared clients with one another.

Over the past two years, Newsom has helped enforce pandemic restrictions, roll out COVID-19 vaccines, pass a series of harsh climate bills, expand Medi-Cal to all immigrants and create a CARE tribunal to seek treatment for non-dwelling Californians with mental illness and drug addiction.

“I think my benefit was those two years to help politically and to help re-stabilize the office,” Debo said. “He needed someone in that place that was pretty Sacramento and it was a tough two years.”

Jason Elliott, the governor’s chief adviser, will also become his deputy chief of staff.


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