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Gov. Newsom After Newsom won the election, Blue Shield contributed $100,000 to his inauguration celebration and cut a $50,000 check in his name to a charity supporting firefighters. (Photo: Bloomberg)

SACRAMENTO — Gavin Newsom was just making a name for himself as mayor of San Francisco in 2005 when Blue Shield of California wrote him its first major check.

The young, business-friendly Democrat had exploded onto the national scene the year before by issuing same-sex marriage licenses in San Francisco, and he was pushing his next big idea, called Project Homeless Connect. The initiative would host bazaar-style events in neighborhoods across the city, linking homeless people to services like food assistance and health care.

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