Why is Gavin Newsom pitting the GOP bear?
“Where the hell is my party?” Newsom said. “Where is the counter-offensive?
He is always careful to explain that he means no disrespect to the official gerontocratic leaders of the Democratic Party: President Biden (who is 79), President Nancy Pelosi (82) and Senator Chuck Schumer (71). ), the majority leader.
And although Newsom has said he has “less than zero interest” in running for president – and his aides insist he is deadly serious about it – he not only appears to be positioning himself as a man peak for blue states, but also lay the groundwork for a future race for the White House.
During an interview with my colleagues Shawn Hubler and Jill Cowan in March, Newsom said he felt a “real sense of obligation” to speak out.
“There’s something really deep going on at the state level, and I just think we’ve been sleepwalking,” he said.
As demoralized Democrats seek political heroes, Newsom offers the allure of a proven winner. He smashed a recall attempt last year and came out stronger. In the recent primary elections in California, he edged his closest opponent by nearly 40 percentage points.
“On election night, Newsom will be the winner of the biggest state and by the biggest margin,” Mike Madrid, a former Republican political consultant based in Sacramento, predicted around November. “There’s no way he can’t be part of a national conversation.”
Last week’s editorial choices by The Atlantic, Air Force One’s proverbial in-flight magazine, were particularly striking: Ron Brownstein, the influential Los Angeles-based pundit and CNN analyst, raved about the leadership de Newsom in one breath while Mark Leibovich, a former New York Times writer cast doubt on Biden’s re-election chances in another.
During the Trump presidency, as blue state governors battled with the White House over pandemic and immigration restrictions, Newsom often seemed to compete with Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York for influence. But Cuomo resigned in 2021 amid allegations of sexual misconduct, leaving Newsom as the most powerful Democratic governor in the country.
“He fills a void,” said David Atkins, a member of the Democratic National Committee from California. “Newsom truly understands the current political moment and what the modern Republican Party has become.”
Trouble in Washington
The renewed interest in Newsom comes as Democrats begin to openly debate whether Biden, given his age (which is high) and his approval rating (which is low), should again wear the party standard in 2024.
Most of these conversations begin with two assumptions: that Vice President Kamala Harris is Biden’s natural heir and that she would face plenty of Democratic challengers if he steps down.
Governor JB Pritzker of Illinois was the keynote speaker at a dinner for the New Hampshire Democratic Party on Saturday, suggesting his motives go beyond the stated goal of helping other governors. who support abortion rights.
Newsom’s rise coincides with a string of crushing defeats for prized progressive policies and goals. The Supreme Court appears poised to overturn Roe, while Republican-led states like Florida and Texas enact new restrictions on what public school teachers can say about gender and sexual identity. In Congress, Republicans have foiled attempts by Democrats to pass legislation aimed at protecting the right to vote, slowing the pace of climate change and a host of other priorities.
“If the president didn’t show up, it’s hard to imagine Newsom wouldn’t be strongly tempted to enter the race,” said David Axelrod, longtime Democratic strategist and political adviser to former President Barack Obama. .
“Newsom is young and politically muscular,” Axelrod added, “which could be exactly what the market will be looking for after Biden.”
Does California know how to party?
But the “California People’s Republic” can be a double-edged sword for Democrats with national aspirations.
With a population of nearly 40 million, hordes of wealthy liberal donors and an economy bigger than India’s, the state is an attractive platform for a presidential race.
However, the country’s three California presidents – Herbert Hoover, Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan – were Republicans. No California Democrat has ever been elected to the Oval Office.
“They’ve never really been to college to figure out how to win a Michigan or a Wisconsin,” said Mike Murphy, a Republican political consultant based in Los Angeles. “So their instincts tend to be wrong.”
M. ‘Interest below zero’
Newsom’s aides say there’s no hidden agenda here: He just wants to prove to Democrats across the country that attacking Republicans, hard and straight, is a winning political decision. And in a state as diverse and geographically complex as California, he may reach more Democratic voters by appearing on “Maddow” than by appearing, say, on local television.
Newsom’s political advisers studied how Scott Walker handled a similar campaign to recall him to the governorship of Wisconsin in 2012. Walker survived with 53% of the vote, setting him up with a national base of supporters and supporters. donors on the right.
But Walker’s bid for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination quickly faded. Broken and poorly questioned, he dropped out in September 2015, months before the Iowa caucuses.
For Newsom, gleaning information about Walker’s recall was simply a matter of political survival, aides say. And today, by defining Republicans as capricious and cruel, he is just taking full advantage of his platform.
“He expresses general concern about what is happening and offers California as an alternative view,” said Anthony York, the governor’s spokesman. “What’s happening in other states across the country is dangerous.”
The Kamala Factor
Complicating Newsom’s calculations, according to Democratic insiders, is his relationship with Harris, who served as California’s attorney general before her successful Senate bid in 2016.
Tackling Harris would put Newsom at odds with the only black woman to ever serve as vice president. Whatever private doubts many top Democrats express about her viability in a hypothetical contest with Trump, she would be a formidable opponent in early presidential primary states like South Carolina, where black voters propelled Biden to the victory in 2020. Most early polls highly speculative assuming a Biden-less Democratic primary in 2024 puts Harris on top of the heap.
Newsom and Harris also shared the same political consulting firm and swim in many of the same elite waters. California’s megadonors and other power brokers are likely to pale at the prospect of open conflict between the state’s two most powerful Democrats.
“I can’t imagine a world in which they were racing against each other,” said Michael Kapp, a Los Angeles County official and DNC member.
Newsom might be better off running in a year that seems more auspicious for Democrats, like 2028. At that point, the governor would be 61 and amply seasoned after two terms, though he’d need to hoard and pack smart a record that could appeal to primary and general election voters, Murphy warned.
For now, taking on Ron DeSantis and Greg Abbott, his ambitious counterparts in Florida and Texas, Newsom is stoking transnational rivalries that could benefit all three governors. He’s mentioned DeSantis dozens of times over the past few years, while stinging Abbott a little less often. More recently, Newsom criticized DeSantis on Twitter for refusing to help distribute federally supplied childhood vaccines.
“He tweets about my boss all the time,” said Christina Pushaw, a spokeswoman for DeSantis who speaks frequently with the California governor online. “Newsom seems to be trying to start some kind of feud.”
If so, it’s a two-way street: DeSantis blamed liberal voters for turning San Francisco into a “dumpster fire” and said he doesn’t want California residents move to Florida because “they would continue to vote the same way”.
Shawn Huber contributed report.
What to read tonight
As the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack resumed public hearings today, it revealed that Donald Trump was directly involved in a scheme to offer lists of fake pro-Trump voters in the states won by Joe Biden. Discover the course of the afternoon.
Vice President Mike Pence is trying to weather a tough political moment as his former boss faces intense scrutiny on Jan. 6, Maggie Haberman and Reid Epstein write.
Voters in Alabama and Georgia were making their final selections today in congressional second-round elections, and primary voters in Virginia were choosing the party’s nominees for two of the nation’s most closely watched House races. Follow our live updates here and watch the results as they arrive here.
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