Govt. French Laundry vs. Gov. DeathSantis

Governor Gavin Newsom spent much of his presidential exploratory campaign, er, trip to Washington, DC, last week slamming his rival, Republican Governor of Florida Ron DeSantis.

Why? Because they’re both warming up in the bullpen for a 2024 presidential race — just in case Joe Biden and Donald Trump fade or retire. Newsom is battling with the next biggest bully on the playing field. So is DeSantis.

Their ongoing ghost race for the White House heated up last week when Newsom accepted an award in Washington from the States Education Commission honoring California innovation in education. (Yes, even if the State has the lowest literacy rate in the country assess; Florida is the third worst.). Newsom used his mic time to tear up Florida’s Parental Rights in Education Act, dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” law, which prohibits discuss sexual orientation in early grades, to his banning of dozens of math textbooks for alleged references to critical race theory.

“Is the hell going on in this country? You can’t wear rainbow cord, you can’t post a picture of your same-sex spouse because it might cause controversy,” Newsom said. during his speech. “This is what is happening today for education reform.”

It was another Newsom vs. Florida shuffle refrain that’s regularly heard in California, repackaged for DC media and national influencers window-shopping for a Biden replacement.

But before Newsom took the stage, DeSantis fired a preemptive shot.

In a fundraising email titled “Have you been to CA lately?” the Ivy League-educated Floridian denounced Gavin Newsom’s ‘woke California tyranny’. And in doing so, he effectively described how he or another Republican would attack what his the team calls it “Gov. French Laundry” should they meet on the road.

“It’s not hard to see why the Governor of California wants to talk about Florida,” DeSantis said in the fundraising email sent Tuesday. “That’s part of the subject he’s trying to focus on: Anything but California.”

Newsom’s adviser, Nathan Click, retorted that “that’s rich coming from Governor DeathSantis – someone who thinks any 18 year old should be able to buy an AR-15 and unlimited ammo, no questions asked. DeathSantis’ idea of ​​freedom is that tens of thousands of Floridians are dying because of the policies he put in place during the pandemic forcing rape victims to bear their abuser’s child.

In other words, here we go for 2024: Gov. French Laundry vs. Gov. DeathSantis.

Remember that in politics, it’s never too early to start talking about the next race. Which, in this case, would be the one after Newsom and DeSantis ran for re-election to their day jobs in November.

Newsom, of course, said he had “less than zero interest” in running for president and reiterated that claim to DC last week. “I tried to say ‘No, no way’ in every way possible,” he said. told Fox 11 from Los Angeles as he stood outside the White House. “I don’t know the language in which to say ‘absolutely, no.'”

Fair enough. While Newsom doesn’t show up, he’s trying to stay in the national conversation, just in case the president “lowest approval rating of any president-elect at this point in his presidency since World War II” Biden is overwhelmed by the fumes of the highest inflation rate in four decades.

That moment may be now. A New York Times/Siena College survey last week found that 64% of Democrats want a different candidate to run in 2024. More damning: 94% of Democrats under 30 want someone else. Used car dealers trust more, according to Gallup.

Many Republicans also fall in love with Trump. That same Siena College survey found that more than half (51%) of GOP voters want someone other than Trump on the ballot in 2024, with DeSantis (24%) being the top choice. Asset told New York magazine last week that he’s going to run, he just decides to announce before or after November midterms.

It doesn’t matter when Trump launches. Longtime GOP pollster Frank Luntz said on Friday that Americans on all sides send a strong and definitive message if the 2024 game is a Biden-Trump rematch: “They’re not saying ‘no.’ They say, ‘Hell, no.’

If Biden doesn’t run and Newsom goes, DeSantis prepares his attacks. It will portray Newsom as a “woke” culture warrior whose actions during the pandemic have hurt California’s economy and frustrated parents while schools have remained closed longer than they should have.

Newsom generally counters that DeSantis is a clone of Trump, a bully whose anti-abortion, anti-LGBTQ stances and book-banning propensities are better suited to the 19th century, and whose public health stance during COVID has challenged recklessly endanger dozens of Floridians.

Here’s how it will go:

Schools, closures and COVID: “They kicked their kids out of public schools at the behest of the teachers union,” DeSantis wrote in the fundraising email. “They forced small businesses to close and many never to reopen again.”

It appeals to the GOP rank and file’s contempt for union educators and frustration with the shutdown. Appealing to parents can be powerful, as Republican Glenn Youngkin’s victory in the race for governor of Virginia last year showed.

DeSantis ordered schools to reopen in the fall of 2020, while Newsom said schools could open then if their infection rates warranted it. Of all the states, Florida had the third-most in-person school days during the pandemic; California ranked last, according to the Burbio school monitoring site, DeSantis Mask and vaccine rejected warrants, while Newsom encouraged them. Florida went so far ban vaccine and mask mandates in November 2021.

Newsom points out that many states with the highest COVID death rates are run by Republicans. More precisely, Florida COVID Death Rate (353 people per 100,000) is much higher than California’s (234 per 100,000).

Crime and homelessness: “They obstructed law enforcement and allowed drugs and crime to destroy their cities,” DeSantis wrote in his fundraising email. It used to be called San Francisco, where Newsom was mayor, “a dumpster fire.”

In a presidential campaign, anti-Newsom television ads would write themselves, and many would feature images of the state’s 161,000 homeless residents as a symbol of state government failure. DeSantis could indicate that San Francisco residents agree with him to some degree on crime and drugs, at least those who voted to recall District Attorney Chesa Boudin last month.

Newsom would counter that California, under his leadership, made an unprecedented investment in homeless services and affordable housing. When it comes to crime, Florida is exacerbating the problem with its loose gun laws, which the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence has classified. a C- compared to Has from California. Florida’s gun death rate (13.7 people per 100,000) is much higher than California’s (8.5 per 100,000).

Redefining “freedom”: DeSantis wrote that “there are plenty of woke billionaires on Gavin Newsom’s speed dial who don’t want to see individual freedom succeed.” DeSantis’ campaign didn’t answer my question about the “woke billionaires” he was referring to, but the more important point is how each man defines “freedom.”

DeSantis’ idea of ​​freedom is economic. “Free people who make their own decisions are better off than a locked-in population dictated by elitists,” he wrote.

Newsom replied – in a recent troll appearance on Trump’s Truth Social Twitter clone site – than last year California’s GDP the growth was greater than that of all the red states.

Moreover, DeSantis’ idea of ​​freedom does not extend to a woman’s ability to determine what happens to her own body. DeSantis, who touts his “100% pro-life record,” tweeted that “the prayers of millions have been answered” after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. He recently signed a ban on abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy, with no exceptions for rape or incest.

Freedom, Newsom pointed out, does not include banning math textbooks. In April, DeSantis banned 54 math textbooks because they allegedly contained what DeSantis called “woke” references to verboten topics like “critical race theory.”

A DeSantis race against Newsom in 2024 could hinge on how voters stand on this last question: what do you mean by freedom? Prepare your answers. There are less than 29 months until election day.

Correction: Due to a calculation error, a previous version of this article misrepresented the time remaining until the presidential election.

Joe Garofoli is the San Francisco Chronicle’s senior political editor. Email: [email protected]: @joegarofoli

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