Governor of California Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, has declared that he is not running for president in 2024. After all, there’s an incumbent in the White House who intends to run for a second term and if things change, the frontrunner would be a vice president from the Golden State, who he claims is a friend.
But it sure looks like Gavin Newsom is running for president. Either that or he has an obsession with Texas and Florida.
The Washington Post reports that “Newsom, who is widely viewed as a potential future Democratic White House contender, plans to travel to “states where freedom is most under attack,” he says in a video, to meet with like-minded activists, students, candidates and elected officials who he said are often fighting a lonely battle in places Democrats don’t typically visit. He is setting out on his first trip this weekend to Arkansas, Mississippi and Alabama to meet with local activists with his wife, Jennifer Siebel Newsom, and his children in tow.
Newsom is also framing the effort as a new bulwark against attempts to erode LGBTQ protections and an unrelenting drive within some sectors of the GOP to reshape academic curriculum and ban certain books in schools. He is seeding the group, which will be called the Campaign for Democracy, and organized as a nonprofit, with $10 million from his campaign war chest, and he plans to use the fund to help aligned ideological groups and candidates.
The California governor’s push stems from his frustration that GOP leaders such as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott — amplified by conservative media outlets — are dominating the national conversation with their moves on education, abortion, guns and immigration while Democrats have failed to offer a compelling alternative narrative.
That imbalance, he argues, has placed the “entire rights agenda” of the past half-century at risk. During the 2022 midterms, Newsom took initial steps in striking back, erecting billboards, for example, in seven red states that have limited or banned abortion, encouraging out-of-state women to come to California for their reproductive care.”
Newsom told the newspaper he was “ringing this bell of alarm around issues of rights regressions” because “the momentum on the other side is only continuing; it’s getting stronger; it’s becoming much larger and more scaled.”
He’s just doing it out of concern for the country, you see, not because he wants to run for president if Biden does not seek re-election. He continued, “I don’t want to sit back passively. I want to get out there,” he added. “I want to get in the dirt here and really push back and let folks know that we have their backs. There’s these folks — they’re fighting alone out there and they probably feel abandoned; they don’t feel enough support.”
This is not the first time Newsom has appeared to be making moves with an eye on the White House. Last year, the California governor challenged Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to a debate.
Here’s an idea for Chris Licht, the new head of @CNN. Set up a debate — one-on-one — between @GavinNewsom and @RonDeSantisFL. Two governors of big states, potential presidential candidates. Prime time. Ratings I bet would be huge. Who would have the courage to show up?
— Dan Rather (@DanRather) August 26, 2022
A month or so before that he put up billboards and ran ads attacking the governor’s position on abortion, trying to persuade Floridians to leave the Sunshine State for California.
While Newsom gallivants around the country trying to make a name for himself, his home state continues to face disaster after disaster. Earlier in the year Fox News reported that “a third of the U.S.’s entire homeless population and half of all unsheltered homeless people live in California – as the state grapples with a very visible crisis, according to estimates released at the end of 2022.”
This makes sense because California is also facing a housing crisis in which only the wealthy, typically the only people Newsom speaks to, can afford to buy a home. Cal Matters writes, “Fewer than 55% of Californians live in homes they or their families own, the second lowest rate of any state and just slightly higher than New York.
Why? It’s that houses cost more in California than in any other state except Hawaii, with a current home sale median well above $800,000, reflecting both the lack of supply and the state’s high construction costs.
Construction overhead includes high land and labor costs, heavy regulatory hurdles, mandatory features and fees that add tens of thousands of dollars to the cost of each unit. Even construction of relatively small rental apartments meant for low- and moderate-income families averages over $500,000 a unit and can range as high as $1 million.
California, meanwhile, has the nation’s second lowest affordability index, with only Hawaii lower. At the time the data were collected, California had a $760,000 average home price, nearly seven times as much as its average income of $111,622.
Texas, California’s arch-rival in economic, cultural and political fields, isn’t as affordable as West Virginia, but is the 12th most affordable state, with an average price of $289,896 and an average income of $89,506.”
This doesn’t account for the fact that California can barely keep the lights on. ABC News noted, “In August 2020, hundreds of thousands of Californians briefly lost power in rolling blackouts amid a heat wave, marking the first time outages were ordered in the state due to insufficient energy supplies in nearly 20 years.”
Taking a 10,000-foot view of politics, all of this leaves the question: who besides Gavin Newsom would even want Gavin Newsom to be president?