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SACRAMENTO — Ronald Reagan used the California governor’s office as a springboard to the White House. Jerry Brown and Pete Wilson tried to.

But now, the governor of the nation’s most populous state has to contend with massive wildfires, unhealthy air, rolling blackouts, unchecked homelessness, social unrest and the constant threat of earthquakes — not to mention ideological attacks by the president. New headaches arise every week, sometimes every day, all during a pandemic that has led to soaring unemployment.

State executive jobs anywhere come with their challenges to accompany ribbon cuttings and a chance to feed national political ambition. But the pitfalls in California seem enormous, and no more so than under the Gavin Newsom — the suave and stylish Democrat who manages one moment to be a leading liberal figure and at another an unwitting star in Donald Trump campaign ads.

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