In May, Gov. Gavin Newsom told the editorial board of the San Francisco Chronicle that he has “sub-zero interest” in running for president.
Apparently interest rates are rising everywhere.
On July 4, Newsom took some money from the petty cash drawer of his richly funded re-election campaign committee and bought TV advertising on Fox News. In Florida.
The ridiculous ad shows Newsom in a lushly landscaped back yard – check the timer on those sprinklers, they’re violating the governor’s water restrictions – where he launches a series of half-truth attacks on Florida Republicans, including potential presidential rival Gov. Ron DeSantis.
The ad reaches full absurdity when Newsom invites the population of Florida to move to California for its “freedom” as the screen shows a photo of beautiful Santa Monica beach, virtually empty of people. It must have been taken around the time the governor was ordering the arrest of sunbathers.
That’s followed by footage of lushly irrigated vineyards. There are no images of parched Central Valley farms starved of water by the administration’s policy choices, and no pictures of unemployed farmworkers lined up for food assistance.
Then Newsom brags that California loves protesters and hates hatefulness, and finally he warns Floridians that Republicans are trying to take their freedom.
Newsom didn’t disclose to the Sunshine State audience that California’s top income tax rate is 13.3% compared to Florida’s tax rate of zero, or that California’s state sales tax is 7.25% while Florida’s is 6%, or that California’s gas tax just rose to 53.9 cents per gallon while Floridians pay only 25.3 cents.
Nothing was said about the problem of homeless encampments, or high electricity costs, or the threat of summer blackouts, or the rise in crime. Newsom forgot to mention that he has signed laws that will raise the cost of plastic food-service items and ban gasoline-powered vehicles.
Floridians were not informed that California has been under a state of emergency for two years and four months, or that Newsom refuses to give up his emergency powers. Also left unmentioned: the humiliating fact that under his administration, California has lost population for the first time in its history.
There was no mention of California’s embarrassing poverty rate, the highest in the nation when the cost of living is taken into account, and no disclosure that one-third of the state population is on Medi-Cal, the safety-net health insurance for low-income residents. Newsom also left out the sickening learning loss suffered by disadvantaged students when California schools were closed, while Florida’s schools stayed safely open.
Of course, there’s only so much time in a TV commercial. The dysfunction in California really needs a full-length screenplay.
Perhaps Newsom’s goal with this ludicrous ad was to signal Democratic donors and activists in early primary states to remember, before they commit to supporting any other Democrat for president, that he’s tanned, rested and ready. His campaign team may have chosen to run the ad on Fox News in the hope of baiting GOP leaders into responding on television, thereby creating useful video clips of Republicans supposedly fretting about what a strong candidate Newsom would be.
Whatever the purpose of Newsom’s ad, it’s unlikely that Democratic primary voters in other states will be buying what he’s selling. More likely, they’ll have sub-zero interest.