With a classified document scandal encircling him like a vulture waiting on a wounded animal to succumb to its injuries, Joe Biden’s chances to be a presidential candidate next year are closing in on nil. So who will be the Democrats’ flagship candidate? The smart money says it will be the foolish Gavin Newsom.
The California governor wouldn’t be the only candidate, of course. A lineup for the primaries is likely to include, at the least, current vice president and former U.S. senator from California Kamala Harris, as well as previous candidates Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, and U.S. Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. Even former First Lady Michelle Obama appears in the betting lines.
The clear favorite, though, a year before the primaries, has to be Newsom. He has the backing, the teeth, the hair, the Hollywood glam – and 54 electoral votes.
What he doesn’t have is any good reason whatsoever to be president. He does, though, have a lot of good ones not to be. He is California’s Governor, not America’s Governor, a title better suited for Florida’s Ron DeSantis.
While perfectly cast in the role as the chief executive of California, and adored in blue states on both coasts, and a few in the middle, Newsom’s appeal to red America will be less indifference than outright contempt. He is everything that those voters dislike.
Fair or not, he’s been called the governor of “Commiefornia,” “U-Haul Salesperson of the Year,” “delusional” about his claims of California freedom, and a hypocrite for going maskless at a tony Napa Valley restaurant in 2020 while he was hectoring everyone else to mask up. The majority of red state voters are not going to bother with the nuances regarding derisive labels, the governor’s tortured representation of California liberty, nor his “I made a bad mistake” apology for celebrating a friend’s birthday with this face uncovered.
They’d see, and they wouldn’t be wrong, a candidate who sneers at their values and does not have their interests in mind. What he believes are the important issues – climate change, Second Amendment infringements, pay equity, reparations, DEI policies, and comforting labor unions – red staters consider foolishness and worse. They don’t want to be “Californicated.”
Still, it cannot be denied that much of the country wants to be like California.
But for how long will the wish last in New York or Massachusetts or Minnesota or Washington? California isn’t what it once was, and while Newsom can’t be blamed for every ill in the state – from frightening crime, a toxic homeless problem, and punitive energy prices, to perpetual drought, raging wildfires, and a future that’s sure to “feature” regular power blackouts – he’s done nothing to turn around the decline and in fact appears to be enthusiastic about taking the state into a deeper rut with blue-state policies.
This determination to stick with what hasn’t worked, and never will, has not gone unnoticed. Weary residents are fleeing. The net loss from July 2020 to July 2021 alone was nearly 114,000. Newsom owns the distinction of being the only governor in California’s 173-year history to lose population – as well as U.S. House representation – and he’s done it three years in a row.
There’s no indication that Newsom has inspired confidence in business owners and executives, either. They have been moving out of the state in alarming numbers. While relocating to avoid California’s hostility toward business is not new, the pace has picked up during the Newsom years. Large corporations and privately owned businesses moved their headquarters out of California in 2021, the year Newsom survived a recall election, at twice their rate in the previous two years, and three times the rate in 2018.
How Newsom would fare as the 2024 Democratic Party nominee depends a great deal on his Republican opponent. But no matter who that is, Newsom will still be a polarizing candidate. He is as close as the progressive left can get to a perfect politician, and is almost as far from being a candidate who appeals to the middle of the country as is imaginable. Sen. Bernie Sanders, Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez and Harris are a few who come to mind who might do worse.
It’s tempting to say Newsom’s chances next year are overblown, that his California yoke will drag him down. And there’s no denying he has much to overcome. But he will be a national media darling, should he run for the White House, which might be enough to override the negatives he will bring. That makes him dangerous – a threat to liberty, a threat to economic freedom and growth, a threat to energy access and independence, a threat to our wallets. He is not America’s Governor and should not be America’s President.
— Written by the I&I Editorial Board