Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom was endorsed for governor by the National Union of Healthcare Workers after expressing his support for a single-payer health care system that would insure all Californians.

The endorsement vote Sunday followed a forum at the Sheraton Park Hotel in Anaheim involving all four major Democratic gubernatorial candidates.

After no candidate received a majority of the vote from 350 elected NUHW stewards, a second round of voting was held among the top two finishers, Newsom and former State Superintendent of Public Instruction Delaine Eastin.

Newsom received 53 percent of the vote in the second round, according to Justin DeFreitas, the union’s communications director.

“Honored to have your support as we take on the fight for universal healthcare statewide!” Newsom tweeted.

The endorsement was Newsom’s second from a union this weekend. He was endorsed Saturday by the California Teachers Association in a vote of its State Council at its quarterly meeting at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel in downtown Los Angeles.

Newsom said during the forum “a single-payer system drives down the cost of health care, drives down the cost of prescription drugs through economies of scale and it provides a more effective, efficient, universal access for those who are uninsured.”

Newsom added that California could afford a single-payer system in large measure by reallocating funds already spent on health care.

“The fact is the money exists in the system,” Newsom said. “The money is not being well-invested. A single-payer system provides the ability to provide more efficiencies and cost controls.”

State Treasurer John Chiang and former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa also participated in the forum.

NUHW members reviewed information about the candidates before the forum, including questionnaires and position papers where they presented their views on key issues facing California.

The union also provided questionnaires to the leading Republican candidates — Rancho Santa Fe venture capitalist John Cox and Huntington Beach Assemblyman Travis Allen — but they did not respond and were not invited to Sunday’s forum, DeFreitas said.

After Newsom received the CTA endorsement, union President Eric Heins called him “a strong supporter of public schools, colleges, students and educators.”

Newsom “believes in the mission of providing a quality, well-rounded education to all students and that the true objective of public education isn’t about picking winners and losers, it’s about ensuring that every child can succeed,” Heins said.

Newsom tweeted that he was “honored and humbled” by the union’s endorsement “and to stand up for educational excellence with California’s teachers and students.”

Cox tweeted, “California’s children & parents deserve a public education system much better than what either of these two have given us.”

—City News Service

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