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California Gov. Gavin Newsom endorses Sen. Kamala Harris for president

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Gov. Gavin Newsom announced he is endorsing California Sen. Kamala Harris for president during a Friday television appearance on MSNBC.

“I’m very enthusiastic about Kamala Harris,” Newsom said in an interview with Chris Hayes, host of “All In.” “I’ll be endorsing her candidacy for president. I’ve known her for decades . I think the American people could not do better.”

Though not surprising given the long political relationship between the two former San Francisco politicians, Newsom’s support could play a pivotal role in Harris’ prospects in an increasingly crowded Democratic field of presidential candidates. California lawmakers decided in 2017 to move the state’s primary to early March in an effort to make a bigger impact in the presidential sweepstakes.

Newsom said he got to know Harris well when he served as mayor of San Francisco at the same time Harris was the district attorney of the liberal Bay Area city.

His announcement follows endorsements of Harris from labor activist Dolores Huerta, co-founder of the United Farm Workers, and Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Oakland).

Since announcing her candidacy in January, Harris has propelled herself to the front of the pack of Democratic candidates lining up to challenge Republican President Trump in 2020. Harris spent Friday campaigning in South Carolina, a pivotal early presidential primary state, starting her two-day swing at a town hall in Charleston.

Harris and Newsom are longtime friends and political allies. They were both mentored by former San Francisco Mayor and state Assembly Speaker Willie Brown and served in City Hall at the same time. They have also inhabited the same social circles and vacationed together.

Despite that, the two politicians were considered potential rivals after one of California’s U.S. Senate seats was vacated by the retiring Barbara Boxer in 2015. In the end, Harris jumped into the race to replace Boxer, and Newsom announced that he would run for California governor in 2018.

Times staff writer Seema Mehta contributed to this report.

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