Tuesday, November 8, 2022






        Few California politicians have been more opportunistic than Gavin Newsom, just reelected easily to four more years in the governor’s state capitol office.


        But few governors ever seemed more bored with the job itself. Like several predecessors, Newsom has lately seemed far more obsessed with national politics than his own job.


        But none has ever felt more blocked in advancing from Sacramento to Washington, D.C. Yes, a few California governors like Jerry Brown and Goodwin Knight have been willing (Brown did not succeed in this) to move from being governor to a seat in the U.S. Senate. The most successful at this was Republican Hiram Johnson, early in the 20th Century.


        But most governors here see the Senate as a step down, the only real step up being the presidency.


        Like many politicians before him, Newsom denies any interest in that. No one keeps score of this, but few officials have ever issued more denials of desire for the nation’s top office than Newsom.


        That may be because right now he looks boxed in on two fronts. First, there’s incumbent president Joe Biden, who implies he wants to run again in 2024, and hang his lousy ratings in voter polls. Then there’s Newsom’s longtime stablemate, Vice President Kamala Harris, a fellow alum of San Francisco city government with whom he has shared political consultants.


        That scene could change very quickly when 2023 ends and the 2024 primaries begin. Biden’s age (81 in 2024) could affect him even more than it already seems to. And Harris, who has never made it past the opening caucus states during the primary season, might falter again. If either of these not-at-all-unlikely developments became reality, the way would open for Newsom. He might be an opportunist, but has never been a traitor to political friends like Biden and Harris.


        Meanwhile, Newsom decries Democrats’ electoral passivity and has been more active against potential Republican presidential candidates than any other national Democrat. He’s often critical (or more) of ex-President Donald Trump. He used advertisements to attack hard-line rightist governors of Florida and Texas, Ron DeSantis and Greg Abbott.


        Other national Democrats have noticed. Why else would Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, another potential presidential hopeful, blast Newsom for not campaigning enough for other Democrats around the nation?


        Newsom talks as if he’s itching for a real fight after coasting to reelection, grimacing visibly and almost painfully at the notion of debating DeSantis.


        That came after he ran biting TV ads on Fox stations around Florida asserting Californians enjoy more freedom than folks in Florida. He cited abortion and COVID-19 survival rates as two such areas. Newsom followed up with newspaper and billboard ads in Texas making similar comparisons.


        Both brief ad campaigns drew blood. DeSantis soon started featuring blasts at California in his almost daily emailed fund-raising pitches. He castigated California for closing public schools and shutting down many businesses during the pandemic, claiming this state has “hobbled law enforcement and allowed drugs and crime to destroy their (sic) cities.”


        He, of course, did not mention that if California had followed the laissez faire DeSantis Covid policies, 40,000 more Californians would be dead by now in that plague, atop the current toll of 92,000.


        DeSantis took to calling Newsom “Gov. French Laundry,” for his infamous visit to a pricey Wine Country restaurant while other Californians were stuck at home. Never passive, Newsom quickly labeled DeSantis “Gov. DeathSantis.” Newsom then began contributing campaign money to Democrats around the nation.


There’s really nothing substantive Newsom and DeSantis could fight over other than the White House, unless each somehow wound up as a vice presidential candidate on someone else’s ticket.


        Meanwhile, several polls have shown Newsom with a better chance of defeating Trump in 2024 than Harris or Biden, while also indicating he would beat DeSantis if they were matched today.


        As for Abbott, Newsom mocked his open-carry gun policies, and his almost total shutdown of abortions, sponsoring a gun-lawsuit law that specifically mocks the Texas abortion measures.


        Legendary Republican consultant Karl Rove then called Newsom “brilliant” for all this.


        It’s very unlikely that it will lead nowhere at all.

    Email Thomas Elias at tdelias@aol.com. 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 www.californiafocus.net

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