Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida, who is seeking the Republican presidential nomination, recently held a fundraising event near the residence of California Governor Gavin Newsom. This move comes after weeks of tension between the two governors, resulting in a feud that benefits both of them politically.
The closed-door fundraiser, priced at $3,300 per plate, occurred at a suburban country club in Sacramento and was hosted by a Republican real estate developer. While Governor DeSantis did not make a public statement during the event, the choice of location emphasized the ongoing back-and-forth between the two governors, who have increasingly used each other as political foils.
Earlier this month, Florida officials confirmed that the state had orchestrated the relocation of around three dozen Latin American asylum seekers from Texas to Sacramento. Governor DeSantis, who has been moving migrants from Texas to Democratic-run areas for several months, justified the initiative as a means to distribute the burden of the Biden administration’s immigration policies more evenly.
Governor Newsom criticized the relocation, equating it to “kidnapping,” and condemned it as a heartless political stunt. He pointed out that California, like Texas, shares a border with Mexico. The California attorney general’s office has initiated an investigation into the matter.
Shortly after the flights carrying migrants arrived, Governor Newsom appeared on Fox News, a conservative network, where he vehemently defended California’s policies and criticized governors like DeSantis. During the interview with Sean Hannity, he expressed his willingness to engage in a debate with Florida’s governor, asserting that he would be “all in.”
In response, Governor DeSantis challenged Newsom to stop hesitating and run for president if he wanted to address their differences on a debate stage. He asked whether Newsom would take action or remain on the sidelines merely making remarks.
Governor Newsom swiftly replied to DeSantis, posting a video of the Florida governor glancing at notes before making the “pussyfooting” comment. In the video, he sarcastically accepted the debate challenge and questioned whether DeSantis also needed his notes for that. Despite Newsom’s disinterest in running for president and his strong support for President Biden’s re-election, he is widely seen as a potential candidate for the White House after the 2024 election.
While DeSantis is considered a leading contender for the Republican nomination in 2024, national polls consistently show him trailing former President Donald J. Trump by approximately 30 points, even as Trump faces legal challenges. DeSantis can keep his campaign going strong by staying in the spotlight through his ongoing feud with Newsom.
The back-and-forth between DeSantis and Newsom also elevates the profile of Governor Newsom. Mike Madrid, a Republican political consultant in California, stated that DeSantis needs to provoke Newsom, as it is his campaign’s primary source of attention. However, he acknowledged that the feud benefits both governors and serves their respective interests.
Governor DeSantis’s campaign announced his arrival in California by tweeting that “the debate is already settled” and sharing a campaign ad depicting California as plagued by population loss, homelessness, and unsanitary conditions. The campaign asserts that California’s liberal governance is a disaster.
Despite being held in a county where over 60 percent of voters supported President Biden in 2020, DeSantis’s appearance drew no protesters. It attracted supporters from the more conservative precincts of the Sacramento area.
This visit to California is one of several stops planned for DeSantis, including another event in Fresno County. Other Republican presidential candidates, such as Nikki Haley and Tim Scott, have also recently visited California. Given its population and significant political funding, California remains an important state for candidates from both parties, even though President Biden overwhelmingly won the state in the 2020 election.