Chronicle columnists Matier and Ross reported yesterday that Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa had decided not to run for governor in 2010, setting the stage for a battle royal between Jerry Brown and Gavin Newsom for the Democratic nomination. But the Los Angeles Times is reporting that sources close to Villaraigosa are denying the accuracy of the Chron story and say that LA's mayor hasn't yet made up his mind. If Villaraigosa does drop out, it's hard to say who it will help more -- San Francisco' mayor or the state attorney general and former mayor of Oakland. Brown has more name recognition, and may end up raising more money, but Newsom may get a boost from his close connection with the gay rights movement and the continuing battle over same-sex marriage.
There was speculation late last week and over the weekend that Newsom's strong support for gay marriage could become a flashpoint in the 2010 general election campaign, if there is also a measure on the ballot seeking to overturn Proposition 8. That's probably true, but in the June 2010 primary, Newsom's stance on same-sex nuptials could prove to very popular with liberal and progressives in the Democratic Party.