Following Governor Gavin Newsom’s signing into law of a bill that allows lawsuits to be made against gun makers for negligence on Tuesday, more and more media outlets began speculating that he may be running for President in 2024. And while both President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have said that they would be still be running in two years, the fact remains that Newsom may try and swoop in and steal the nomination away. So let’s take a look at how Newsom could possibly accomplish that.
First off, Newsom seems to have been building up to something big in recent months. He has taken strong stances on gun control and abortion recently in reaction to an uptick of mass shootings and the Supreme Court’s recent overturning of Roe v. Wade, bringing him national exposure. He’s also put ads in other states, most notably his July 4th Florida ad, which is either, depending on who you are, a pro-California hurrah or possibly the cringiest political ad in recent political history. Even more, Newsom and one of the current Republican frontrunners, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, have been in a sniping war for months over their states. So we may already be seeing the 2024 or 2028 political battle right now.
All this, plus Newsom not saying that he won’t run in 2024, makes it in the cards that he is a go.
Next is background. And let’s push out what he did in office quickly and just look at his elected offices on his resume:
- San Francisco Board of Supervisors from 1997 to 2004
- San Francisco Mayor from 2004 to 2011
- Lieutenant Governor from 2011 to 2019
- Governor from 2019 on.
On paper, that is an impressive climb with a lot of experience that anyone with that, regardless of party, does have quite the pedigree for higher office.
But let’s push all of what he did back in. And look, I typed “Gavin Newsom controversies” into Google and got 909,000 pages back. When I was gathering links of what he had done just as Governor from the Globe’s archives, it looked like I was going into the Library of Congress. Even giving a highlight reel would still make for a small book. Suffice it to say that for every good or successful thing Newsom has backed, such as the Care not Cash program in San Francisco in the early 2000’s that replaced giving straight cash to the homeless for medical care and other health programs, there has been one other that had disastrous consequences, like extramarital affairs with wives of his own aides.
Looking at a possible run for Governor Gavin Newsom
If he were to run, Biden and others would have a field day with Newsom’s past. To his credit, Newsom has tried to make amends for some of his more negative actions, like seeking treatment for his alcoholism. But other things would not be so easy, especially on a national stage. Affairs are a notable political killer, or at the very least are guaranteed to bring you down at least 20 points in voter popularity. Democrats in particular can bring up issues that would hurt him within his own party, like his failure to make San Francisco a sanctuary city in 2009 despite his promises.
Again, he does have several “a broken clock is right twice a day” moments and has been shown to give a damn about several issues, but his time as Governor will be brought heavily into the spotlight in a possible run for the Democratic nomination. And whatever the Democrats don’t fire on him, you can be sure the Republican candidate will if he manages to get the nomination.
Like his propensity for ignoring his own laws and guidelines. As the Globe has pointed out, he has had a long history of this, but in the last few years he has, multiple times, ignored his own mask mandates, and has ignored state travel bans, like his recent Montana outing. Ted Cruz got this once badly looked at by the press last year for going to Mexico during a state crisis. For Newsom, this is a regular thing.
And that’s not even getting into the fact that he would be running only a few years after a major recall election against him, which no presidential candidate has really done before. For anyone running against him, that is a huge issue to use that, for most politicians, would be insurmountable.
Telling, Newsom is also behind in polls to Biden despite the President facing a growing disapproval rating. He’s still ahead of Harris in a possible run, but if other candidates join the fray, Newsom may not have as big a shot.
This is by no means a full vet. Many, MANY things haven’t even been mentioned, both positive and negative, that Newsom has done in the past 25 years of holding elected office. Most readers can probably think of a few things that the Governor has done that has affected them personally. Again, all of that is important, but this isn’t a book about the ups and downs of Newsom’s life. This is just a quick look at what if Newsom does give it a go.
And, on the outside, right now, it doesn’t look like he’ll do well. Biden is more popular than Newsom, not to mention a growing favoritism of Republicans nationwide right now. That’s not to say that Newsom could reach that point, but he would need to find a way to greatly counter all the points against him. And in a debate, opponents would just need to start talking about his recall, or how homelessness is still prevalent, or the housing situation, or wildfire containment, or his past affairs, or maskgate, or a plethora of other topics, and he would have to go into defensive mode.
He doesn’t have the JFK or Reagan whit to be able to make a quip or joke or rely on a good relationship with the press to easily combat an issue. He just has way too much baggage.
It’s still a bit too early to really be concerned about 2024. But after the elections this November it will be a good opportunity to see what more Newsom has done and where Biden stands.
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