Governor of California Visits Texas Amid GOP Conflict
On Saturday, California Governor Gavin Newsom will travel to Texas in an effort to raise his own profile during a noncompetitive reelection campaign at home while stepping foot in the state of one of his main political rivals.
One year after rejecting a recall campaign, Newsom is poised for an easy victory in his bid for a second term as governor of the nation’s most populous state. His Republican opponent is unknown and underfunded.
Newsom has been searching for other places to spend some of the $23 million he has in his campaign account because he is not under much pressure at home. He has so far purchased billboards in seven conservative states, including Texas, inviting women to travel to California for abortions, newspaper advertisements in Texas criticising the state’s lenient gun regulations, and TV ads in Florida urging people to relocate there.
The discussion, titled “On what the nation’s most populous state can teach the other 49 states — including (Texas),” is now set for Newsom to give at the Texas Tribune Festival in Austin, Texas.
Following criticism of his own political party for being too weak and calls for them to take a stronger stance in light of recent conservative victory at the U.S. Supreme Court that removed federal abortion protections and loosened gun control laws, Newsom took the steps he did.
When asked last week if his focus on other states suggested he wasn’t taking his reelection campaign seriously, Newsom responded that his funders wanted more of that. “More leadership in this area is needed, according to the people of California.”
The majority of this week was spent in New York City, where Newsom spoke at a number of climate change conferences while also criticising Republican governors for “doubling down on foolish.” During a brief interview at the Clinton Global Initiative on Tuesday, he singled out Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbot, stating that he and other Republican governors are “as foolish as they want to (be).”
Newsom requested last week that the U.S. Department of Justice look into the “disgraceful” practise of Abbot and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis moving migrants to other states. At a press conference, DeSantis rejected Newsom’s request, claiming that his “hair gel is interfering with his mental function.”
In response, Newsom tweeted: “I’ll bring my hair gel. I’ll challenge DeSantis to a debate. You should carry hairspray.
According to Eric Schickler, co-director of the Institute of governmental Studies at the University of California-Berkeley, Democratic President Joe Biden has been less outspoken in these political battles on a national level, opening the door for someone like Newsom to enter and challenge the most outspoken members of the Republican Party.
Compared to previous presidents, “(Biden) is less out there in many ways,” Schickler added. “It creates a kind of void where ambitious Democrats who want to be part of the national discourse have that type of room to maybe say things they want Biden to say that he doesn’t believe is either proper as president to express or just not his style to do,” says one Democratic strategist.
Abbott, who is in a more tight-contested race with former congressman Beto O’Rourke, may benefit from Newsom’s abrasiveness. According to Texas State University political science professor Kenneth Grasso, some Republicans have expressed concern that Abbott is “not conservative enough.” According to Grasso, Newsom’s criticism of Abbott “only benefits him with those individuals.”
He claimed that by emphasising their right-wing beliefs and labelling them as radicals, people would only serve to increase their support among their own constituency.
Texas Democrats appear to be welcoming California Governor attention despite that risk.
Gilberto Hinojosa, the chair of the Texas Democratic Party, remarked of California Governor, “I like this guy. I appreciate how he draws comparisons between what you do in California and the narrow-minded, extreme viewpoints that prevail in Texas.