Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is running for president in 2024, is “weak” and “undisciplined” and “will be crushed by Donald Trump,” according to California Gov. Gavin Newsom.
DeSantis mocks Newsom’s “fixation” on Florida and claims that California’s “leftist government” is killing it.
Welcome to one of the strongest U.S. political battles between two term-limited governors from two of the nation’s largest and most significant states. Newsom and DeSantis will not confront one other in 2024, but they are shaping the presidential primary discussion from their respective states.
In a recent interview, Newsom expressed his disdain for DeSantis and devotion to President Joe Biden. DeSantis has used California as a scapegoat to avoid confronting his Republican presidential competitor, Trump, and his mounting legal troubles.
“He’s taking his eye off the ball,” Newsom said of DeSantis’ growing assaults. “And that’s not inconsistent with my own assessment of him, which is he is a weak candidate, undisciplined, will be crushed by Donald Trump, and will soon be in third or fourth in national polls.”
Governor DeSantis’ representatives declined an interview. Despite the rhetoric, strategists in both parties propose a mutually beneficial arrangement. Governors gain political support, raise money, and build national brands by criticizing each other in the press and on social media.
It’s not all useful.
Newsom is facing persistent concerns about his presidential ambitions less than a week after DeSantis challenged him to “stop pussyfooting around” and confront Biden.
Since he handily defeated a recall effort in 2021 and comfortably to reelection last November, Newsom’s national stature has grown. He had $16 million left after the midterm campaign. He gave $10 million to his Campaign for Democracy political action group in March.
Newsom’s staff has been careful to avoid the appearance of a shadow presidential campaign while Biden increases his political activity.
Newsom’s new PAC is initially targeting Republican leaders in deep-red states irrelevant to the 2024 presidential election. His first PAC effort was in Alabama, Arkansas, and Mississippi in April.
His associates predict Newsom would avoid battleground or important presidential primary states for the foreseeable future.
The California governor and his team have been in frequent touch with Biden and his senior staffers, notably deputy White House chief of staff Jen O’Malley Dillon, who ran the president’s 2020 campaign. A Biden campaign spokesman claimed the president’s staff works regularly with Newsom.
Newsom will never run against Biden. Newsom is a national Democrat, and life is long. Longtime Newsom aide and friend Nathan Ballard said the conflict with DeSantis was part of his duty.
There is a 2024 election and a 2028 election
Indeed, senior Democratic consultant Roy Behr, who advised former California Sen. Barbara Boxer, suggested the two governors may be previewing the 2028 presidential race.
“These two guys could be their parties’ nominees four years from now,” he remarked. Newsom, 55, is “certainly trying to create opportunities for himself” by fighting DeSantis, 44.
DeSantis scheduled no public appearances on his California fundraising tour, which began Monday in Sacramento and the Bay Area and continued Tuesday in San Diego, Orange County, and Los Angeles.
DeSantis said “disgruntled Californians” are moving to Florida over the weekend in Nevada.
Why leave San Diego for Jacksonville, Florida? “I see people doing that,” DeSantis told hundreds of Republican activists at a weekend rally in California. “Leftist government is destroying that state. Leftist government is killing cities everywhere. It’s destroying states.”
Adam Laxalt, who sponsored the weekend gathering and runs the pro-DeSantis super PAC, called the policy differences between Florida and California leaders “a debate that our whole country needs to have.”
California has inspired several liberal policies. In an interview, Laxalt stated, “I’ll take Florida’s policies and results under Gov. DeSantis over California’s.” Leftist policies are evident.