Newsom becomes louder Democratic voice amid Biden isolation and 2024 rumors

With President Joe Biden sidelined, California Gov. Gavin Newsom is expanding his list of Republican targets as Democrats look for leadership.

Newsom has bought advertisements in Texas newspapers slamming Gov. Greg Abbott and the state’s abortion ban and promoting “California’s answer to Texas’ perverse bill.”

“If Texas can ban abortion and endanger lives, California can ban deadly weapons of war and save lives. If Governor Abbott truly wants to protect the right to life, we urge him to follow California’s lead,” the advertisement reads.

Earlier this month, Newsom spent $105,000 on a television advertisement that aired in Florida targeting Gov. Ron DeSantis, a leading Republican 2024 contender. In the spot, Newsom urged Florida voters “to join the fight — or join us in California.”

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On Friday, the governor also planned to sign into law a bill allowing private citizens to enforce his state’s gun laws, modeling the idea for the legislation on a Texas abortion law.

The moves are fueling speculation that the California governor, who is expected to win reelection easily this year, holds national ambitions.

While the Democrat has repeatedly insisted that he has no intention of running for the White House, his latest actions have drawn scrutiny for positioning him in a national conversation over the Democratic Party’s direction.

During a visit to Washington last week, the governor touted his state’s work on climate change, abortion rights, and gun violence, all issues that have largely eluded the progress Democrats’ hoped for with control of both legislative chambers and the White House.

Newsom has also noted California’s efforts to stifle inflation — perhaps Biden’s most significant weakness.

Newsom’s latest gambit is part of a “carefully orchestrated show” to grab national attention as voters grow increasingly frustrated with Democratic leaders, one Sacramento political strategist said.

“There is a gap in national Democratic leadership. He sees the opening and is trying to fill it,” this person added.

Biden is struggling with low approval, high gasoline prices, and Democratic frustration over his stalled legislative agenda and the Supreme Court’s ruling overturning federal abortion rights.

In one new poll, former President Donald Trump leads Biden by 3 percentage points, 46% to 43%. Trump also leads Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) 45% to 40%.

Forty-six percent said Democrats had not been effective in Congress, despite controlling both legislative chambers.

Other surveys show that most Democrats want to see someone else at the top of the 2024 presidential ticket.

Biden has shrugged off these concerns, even as prominent Democrats voice unease about the president’s age. At 79, Biden is the oldest person to lead the country.

Newsom has also not shied away from criticizing his own party and has moved quickly to capitalize on the disturbance voters feel.

“Where the hell is my party?” Newsom asked in May after a leaked draft opinion revealed a Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

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Democrats chose Biden two years ago “because they felt like they needed a conciliator,” said Dan Schnur, a politics professor at the University of California, Berkeley, Pepperdine University, and the University of Southern California and veteran of gubernatorial and presidential campaigns. “Now, they’ve changed their mind and they want something else.”

Schnur added: “The party seems to be looking for a fighter.”

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