Democratic Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom of California was elected governor of the nation's most populous state Tuesday night, defeating Republican John Cox.

Newsom, 51, handily defeated Cox, a businessman, to keep the California seat for the Democrats. He will succeed term-limited Democratic incumbent Jerry Brown.

“Now I can stand before you knowing I will have the incredible privilege of serving as your next governor," Newsom said during his victory speech late Tuesday. "But this victory, this victory is really your victory because of you. The future belongs to California.”


With 46 percent of precincts reporting, Newsom held 57 percent of the vote while Cox trailed at 43 percent.

A former mayor of San Francisco, Newsom held a sizeable lead over Cox heading into Tuesday’s vote.

Newsom, a Trump critic, led in polls and fundraising in a state where Democrats hold every statewide office, both chambers of the Legislature and a 3.7 million edge in voter registrations.

“But tonight America's biggest state is making the biggest statement in America," Newsom said. "We're saying unmistakably and in unison that it's time to roll the credits on the politics of chaos and the politics of cruelty. Now is time for going far and going together.


Newsom served as lieutenant governor under Brown and has pledged to pursue universal health care and a surge in housing construction.

He has said he would expand Brown's criminal justice reforms, which reduced sentences for some offenses, particularly drug crimes.

He has also advocated immigration reforms that would help immigrants illegally living in California. In addition to opposing a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, Newsom has suggested expanding benefits and legal defenses against deportation.

“And to those who wonder whether polarization is permanent who think today's big dreams are tomorrow's broken promises who question whether a 40 million person melting pot of different faiths different families and futures can live and prosper together," Newsom said during his victory speech. "California is your answer.”

As mayor of San Francisco, Newsom gained national attention for ordering the issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples before it was legal.

California has not elected two consecutive Democrats to serve as governor since George Stoneman and Washington Bartlett in the 1880’s.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.