By Molly Young

OW Contributor

When it comes to electing the state’s lt. governor, California has a unique primary voting system that is used by only two other states in the country.

The system, called the Nonpartisan Blanket Primary in California, allows the governor and lieutenant governor to run as separately elected officials, rather than running as a team on one ballot. The candidates with the most votes, regardless of political party, are elected.

Critics of this system say that candidates with opposing views could ultimately serve together. Also, as separately elected officials—even if they are from the same party—they could have very different viewpoints, and the lieutenant governor has the authority to make policies of his own that could be directly in opposition to the governor’s policies. Although there exists an “understanding” that the state’s second in charge will not put forth an opposing agenda which could give the impression of a government lacking in unity, occasionally there has been an exception that has caused friction.

The two candidates running for lieutenant governor are Democratic incumbent Gavin Newsom and small businessman and Republican Ron Nehring.

Gavin Newsom, a self-described “social liberal and a fiscal watchdog,” is a native of San Francisco. He graduated from Santa Clara University with a degree in political science. He then went on to work in small businesses, ultimately creating a successful company as a wine merchant, selling to wineries, restaurants, and hotels.

Appointed in 1996 by then-San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown to the city’s Parking and Traffic Commission, Newsom was elected president of the commission and in 1997 Mayor Brown appointed him to the Board of Supervisors. He was then elected to the board in 1998, serving until 2002. During this time, he designed the ‘Care Not Cash’ program designed to move San Francisco’s homeless into city-assisted care.

In 2004, Newsom was mayor of San Francisco, winning with 53 percent of the vote. In 2007, he signed the Health Choices Plan to provide universal healthcare to San Francisco residents. He also created controversy when he directed the city-county clerk to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples which violated state law at the time; Newsom was also an opponent of the 2008 Proposition 8.

In 2010, Newsom was elected lieutenant governor.

During his political career, Newsom has created controversy with some of his stances, such as calling for the legalization and regulation of marijuana.

The prominent issues Newsom thinks must be addressed are the state’s economy, the environment and green energy. He has plans for “incentivizing” clean-tech industry that will create more jobs and help the environment.

Opposing candidate, Republican Ron Nehring, was born to immigrant parents in New York and graduated from the State University of New York at Stony Brook, becoming the first person in his family to earn a degree. He moved to San Diego in 1996, and in 2001 was elected as chairman of the Republican Party of San Diego County, a position he held until 2007 when he was elected chairman of the California Republican Party. During that time, Nehring also served as a trustee for Grossmont Union High School District, a large school district in east San Diego County, as well as the chairman of the district’s audit committee.

In 2005, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed him to the California Board of Forestry and Fire Protection where he worked on new regulations to improve management of lands and property to reduce wildfire threats to families and their communities. He currently is an international lecturer and trainer in governance and communications for organizations including the Leadership Institute and the International Republican Institute.

If elected, Nehring wants to focus on tax reform to provide better services, reducing the burden on taxpayers. He also supports reforms of the primary education system and favors expanding school choice to include options such as charter schools, rather than implementing the Common Core curriculum.

Supported by the California Rifle and Pistol Association, Nehring agrees with the decision of District of Columbia vs. Heller, which affirms that the Second Amendment is intended to protect the rights of individuals.

Nehring also wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and feels that health insurance can be improved.