Inside the growing rivalry between Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and California Governor Gavin Newsom

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The Governor of California, Gavin Newsom says there is no chance "by God's green earth" that he will run for president in 2024, but wants to make it clear that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis who is running, is “weak” and “undisciplined” and “will be crushed by donald trump ”.

Meanwhile, DeSantis likes to mock Newsom's apparent "fixation" on Florida while insisting that the Democratic governor's "left-wing government" is destroying California.

Welcome to one of the fiercest rivalries in US politics, with dueling term-limited governors representing opposite ends of the ideological spectrum and leading two of the largest and most influential states in the nation. Newsom and DeSantis won't be facing each other on any ballot in 2024, but in many ways, they are defining the debate from their corners of America as primary season gets underway. presidential .

Newsom addressed his contempt for DeSantis and his loyalty to the president Joe Biden in a recent interview just as the governor of Florida launched a two-day fundraising walk that spanned at least five stops in California. The Golden State has become one of DeSantis' favorite punching bags as he tries to avoid a direct confrontation with his main Republican presidential rival, Trump, and mounting legal challenges. of the former president

“He's taking attention away from the ball,” Newsom said of DeSantis' increasing attacks on him. “And that is not inconsistent with my own assessment of him, that he is a weak and undisciplined candidate and will be crushed by Donald Trump, and will soon be third or fourth in the national polls.”

DeSantis' representatives did not make the governor available for an interview. Beneath the war of words, however, strategists from both parties suggest that there may be a mutually beneficial dynamic at play. While criticizing each other's policies and personalities through commentary in the press and on social media, the governors are scoring points with their respective political bases, raising money and expanding their national brands.

Both men issued fundraising appeals on Monday and sought the other by name.

But not everything is useful.

Newsom, in particular, is facing lingering questions about his presidential ambitions less than a week after DeSantis challenged him to “stop beating around the bush” and launch a primary challenge against Biden.

The California governor, whose second and final term expires at the end of 2026, has seen his national profile rise since easily surviving an impeachment attempt in 2021 and winning re-election last fall. He finished the midterm campaign with approximately $16 million in the bank. And in March, he funneled $10 million to a new political action committee he calls the Democracy Campaign.

Meanwhile, Newsom's team has been deliberately moving to avoid the perception that it is running a shadow presidential campaign just as Biden steps up his political activities.

For example, Newsom's new PAC is initially focusing on challenging Republican leaders in deeply Republican states that are largely irrelevant in the 2024 presidential race. He campaigned in Alabama, Arkansas and Mississippi in April on his first associate trip. with the CAP.

Newsom is expected to avoid battleground states or key presidential primary states for the foreseeable future, his allies say.

At the same time, the California governor and his team have been in regular contact with Biden and his top advisers, including Jen O'Malley Dillon, who led the president's 2020 campaign and serves as the White House deputy chief of staff. A Biden campaign official said the president's team coordinates closely with Newsom.

“Newsom is not going to run against Joe Biden and never will. But life is long, and Newsom is one of the nation's leading Democrats. It's part of that role to have these big national battles," Nathan Ballard, a longtime adviser and friend of Newsom, said of the dispute with DeSantis.

“There is the 2024 election, and then there is the 2028 election,” Ballard added.

In fact, veteran Democratic consultant Roy Behr, whose clients included former California Sen. Barbara Boxer, said the two governors are involved in what could become a preview of the 2028 presidential race.

"It's not inconceivable that four years from now, these two guys could be the nominees of their respective parties," he said. By tangling with DeSantis, who is 44, Newsom, 55, is building his brand and national visibility and "is certainly trying to create opportunities for himself."

Sacramento-based Democratic consultant Andrew Acosta said he expected the ongoing rivalry to continue given that it is beneficial to both politicians with their core supporters. He described Newsom and DeSantis as "enemies."

“They both get points,” Acosta said. "There's a hard core of voters on both sides who think this is great."

While polls show many Democrats don't want the 80-year-old Biden to seek a second term, Newsom said there are no circumstances in which he would challenge his own party's incumbent president.

"Not on God's green earth, as the phrase goes," Newsom said in the weekend interview, adding that he would be with Biden on Monday and would host a fundraiser for him on Tuesday. "I've been pretty consistent, including recently on Fox News, defending his candidacy."

DeSantis did not plan to make any public appearances during his California fundraising tour, which included stops in Sacramento and the Bay Area on Monday and continues Tuesday with planned events in San Diego, Orange County and Los Angeles.

Over the weekend in Nevada DeSantis noted that he has seen a surge of "disgruntled Californians" moving to Florida.

“Why would you go like a San Diego to come say, Jacksonville, Florida? I see people doing that," DeSantis told thousands of conservative activists at a weekend gathering near the California border. “It is because the leftist government is destroying that state. The leftist government is destroying cities all over our country. It is destroying other states."

Former Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt who hosted the weekend event and leads the pro-DeSantis super PAC, said the policy contrast between the Florida and California leaders is "a debate our entire country should have."

“California has been the model for many left-wing politics. I would take the contrast between Florida's policies and results led by Governor DeSantis and California's policies, any day of the week," Laxalt said in an interview. "We can already see what leftist politics do."

Both DeSantis and Newsom took office in 2019 and won re-election to their second and final terms in 2022. While in office, both were buoyed by multi-billion dollar budget surpluses and help from the chambers. controlled by their own party that supercharged their agendas.

In California, Newsom expanded the state's Medicaid program to cover all eligible adults, regardless of your immigration status . He signed a series of laws to facilitate the abortion including authorizing $20 million in state spending to help people in other states to travel to California . When the US Supreme Court refused to strike down a Texas abortion law that was enforced through private lawsuits, Newsom signed a similar law in California only he made it about weapons.

And earlier this month, he proposed amend the US Constitution to institute what he called a "reasonable" waiting period for all gun purchases, a ban on so-called assault rifles, universal background checks, and raising the minimum age to purchase a firearm to 21. .

“I think Gavin Newsom is a very useful foil for Ron DeSantis, frankly,” said Lanhee Chen, a California Republican who attended one of DeSantis' five California fundraisers this week. "The more crazy things Newsom does, at least crazy in the eyes of Republican voters, the more I think Ron DeSantis frankly benefits as someone who sees him as a counterbalance to that."

In Florida, DeSantis has embraced conservative cultural issues in what he calls his "war on the awakening."

Earlier this month, his administration led groups of immigrants from Texas to Sacramento to call attention to the influx of Latin American immigrants trying to cross the US-Mexico border. He did the same last fall, sending to dozens of immigrants from Texas to Martha's Vineyard, which he often highlights during his campaign speeches.

DeSantis also signed and later expanded the Parental Rights in Education Bill, known by critics as the "Don't Say Gay" law, which prohibits instruction or classroom discussion of LGBTQ+ issues in public schools in California. Florida for all grades. He took control of Disney World's governing body after the company publicly opposed the law.

This year, the governor of Florida also signed a law banning abortions at six weeks, which is before most women realize they are pregnant. And he took control of a liberal arts college that he believed was indoctrinating students with leftist ideology.

While DeSantis doesn't have the legal entanglements Trump faces, Newsom said Democrats may be wrong to assume the former president would be an easier candidate to defeat in the 2024 general election.

“I see a deep weakness, I refer to it often, weakness with DeSantis masquerading as strength,” Newsom said. “I think he would be a more favored candidate. But I will leave that judgment to more objective minds."

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Nathan Rivera
Allow me to introduce myself. I am Nathan Rivera, a dedicated journalist who has had the privilege of writing for the online newspaper Today90. My journey in the world of journalism has been a testament to the power of dedication, integrity, and passion.

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