Monday, August 15, 2022







        As we head into September, it seems like the presidential campaign is seriously getting underway.


        Oops! Looks like that statement is two years early. Or is it?


        Gov. Gavin Newsom, who won 56 percent of the June primary vote, still needs one more ratification at the polls, where he won election in 2018 and easily beat back a recall almost exactly one year ago.


        But his Republican opponent this fall took just under 18 percent of the primary vote, so Newsom does not exactly have a fight on his hands. That’s why he was able to head out of state for a week over the July 4 holiday and take other family vacations in places like Cabo San Lucas, Mexico and some Central American points.


        That’s also why he was able to spend well over $100,000 in campaign funds donated to his gubernatorial fund on television commercials and newspaper ads in Florida and Texas, essentially bagging on those states’ GOP governors, Ron DeSantis and Greg Abbott, for things like banning some books from public schools, making it hard for elementary school teachers to discuss gender roles and doing what they can to make abortions as illegal as possible.


        “Freedom,” said Newsom, hair slicked back as usual and wearing an open-necked Western-style shirt as he faced the TV camera in his spots, “it’s under attack in your state. Republican leaders, they’re banning books, making it harder to vote, restricting speech in classrooms, even criminalizing women and doctors. I urge all of you…to join the fight. Or join us in California, where we still believe in freedom – freedom of speech, freedom to choose, freedom from hate and the freedom to love.”


        This was Newsom using his campaign war chest, which topped $23 million at midsummer, with no need to spend much at home, in a campaign to become the de facto leader of the national Democratic Party.


        Sure, he drew derision from Republicans, including DeSantis, who correctly took Newsom’s ad as an attack on him. The Florida governor, who has targeted California’s Walt Disney Co., whose Disney World resort outside Orlando is Florida’s largest employer with more than 62,000 workers, for extra taxes ever since the firm opposed his restrictions on talking to schoolchildren about gays.


        DeSantis lashed back at Newsom, blasting “soul-crushing COVID lockdowns that lasted years in California” and calling California “the most over-regulated, overbearing, overtaxed state in the Union.”


        Of course, the COVID lockdowns he excoriated spared at least 40,000 California lives during the first two years of the pandemic, compared to what the death toll here would have been if Newsom had used a “keep everything open” approach like Florida’s.


        The question is whether saving businesses and employees some great inconvenience would have been worth all those lost lives.


        Newsom’s ad was actually a continuation of his effort last spring to fire up national Democrats, who he portrayed as lethargic after the early release of a draft of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to end federal abortion rights.


        Newsom pushed hard for a state constitutional amendment guaranteeing abortion rights in California, on the ballot this fall as Proposition 1, and lambasted his own party almost as strongly as he criticized Republicans for rubber-stamping the three Donald Trump high court appointees behind that ruling.


        Given the low approval poll ratings for President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, he might be all his party has if it wants to avoid a second term of Trump or a Trumpist figure like DeSantis in the White House. He stands a chance of towering over the Democratic field after this year’s mid-term elections.


        Going after DeSantis let him promote himself while still denying he’s running for president. It’s clear one of his pitches in any presidential run would be that Republicans are “pro-government-mandated birth, not pro-life.” He notes they consistently oppose funding for pre-natal care, early education and the Affordable Care Act – better known as “Obamacare.”


        “They’re pro-birth, and then you’re on your own,” he said, adding that “I can’t take any more of this. Why aren’t we standing up more firmly, calling this out? Where’s the counteroffensive?”


        Newsom’s own counteroffensive, and his 2024 campaign, may have begun with his summertime ads.



    Email Thomas Elias at His book, "The Burzynski Breakthrough: The Most Promising Cancer Treatment and the Government’s Campaign to Squelch It," is now available in a soft cover fourth edition. For more Elias columns, visit

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