Lt. Governor Eleni Kounalakis Announces Bid for 2026 California Governor
California Lt. Governor Eleni Kounalakis has announced an early gubernatorial bid for 2026 to replace Gavin Newsom.
She would be the first woman to ever become governor of California Governor if elected.
Lt. Governor Kounalakis was the first woman elected lieutenant governor of the Golden State when elected to the position in 2018. In three years, she will seek to replace current California governor Gavin Newsom, who will not be allowed to run again due to term limits.
Many had questions if Newsom was looking to run for president of the United States following his meteoric rise to the national spotlight. However, the governor has stated that he will not challenge President Biden if he runs again.
Before serving as Lieutenant Governor of California, she served as President Obama’s ambassador to Hungary, where she “worked to promote democracy and American interests abroad...”
As second in command in California, she touts a record of:
- Making college more accessible
- Building more affordable student housing
- Fighting tuition increases
- Leader in the state’s fight against climate change
- Championing women and expanding access to reproductive choice
Her gubernatorial run is not unprecedented, as two of the last four California governors served as lieutenant governor beforehand.
The 2026 California Gubernatorial election is expected to be a long and hard-fought campaign season.
So far, only one candidate besides Kounalakis has announced their intention to run for the state’s top seat: Betty Yee. Yee is the former California state controller who currently serves as the Vice Chair of the California Democratic Party.
With two prominent California politicians already announcing their intention to run, we expect that more will join the 2026 race later this year.
Until then, keep up with BOMA on the Frontline for the latest news in the Greater Los Angeles area.