What We Know
Many people in politics are thought to aspire to the presidency, even those who have never actually run for president. One such politician frequently mentioned is Gov. Gavin Newsom of California.
Now in his second term, after both winning a recall vote in 2021 and a more traditional reelection challenge in 2022, Newsom is said to be positioning himself as more of a national political figure.
“While California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) has repeatedly denied that his sights are set on the White House, experts believe that it’s not a question of if he will run for president, but when,” The Hill said this week.
The former San Francisco mayor is unlikely to run in 2024 unless President Biden declines to run, and Biden said in an interview Monday that he plans to run again. Newsom has told the White House that he will not be running if Biden does, Politico reported last year.
“My sense is that the governor is trying to leave his options open,” Eric Schickler, a political science professor at the University of California, Berkeley, said in the Hill story. “I don’t think there’s any expectation at all he would challenge Joe Biden for reelection… Building a national profile now, the most likely scenario where that really comes to fruition is for 2028.”
Biden is so widely expected to run for another term that no major Democratic officeholders have made moves toward entering the 2024 race. Two candidates, 2016 veteran Marianne Williamson and anti-vaccine activist Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., have already announced that they’re running on the Democratic side. Still, no governors or senators have declared their intention to run.
If Biden is the nominee, whether he wins or loses in 2024, there is likely to be a wide-open Democratic primary for president in 2028, which would determine not only who gets a shot at the presidency, but the future of the Democratic Party in a post-Biden world. And it may very well pit Newsom against Vice President Kamala Harris, another veteran of San Francisco Democratic politics. Los Angeles Magazine described the two as “The Best of Frenemies.”
Should Newsom and Harris square off, would take place at a time when frequent vilification of “Democrat-run cities,” and San Francisco specifically, has been a major part of Republican messaging, both locally and nationally.
A more direct enemy of Newsom has been Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who like Newsom has used the governorship of a major state and a legislative majority to push the bounds of what is possible in a major state, while possibly positioning himself for a presidential run. Newsom has even visited Florida to denounce DeSantis on his home turf. The two may very well end up on opposite sides of a presidential election, once the Trump and Biden eras in the parties are over.
“He knows that challenging a sitting president of his own party is not going to be good for his own political prospects. So if he needs to, he’ll wait another four years,” political strategist Daniel Schnur told The Hill.
He also noted that it’s a very different California today than the one that existed 50 years ago.
“When Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan ran for president, California represented America’s dream — all those Midwestern voters turned on the Rose Bowl parade on New Year’s Day and started thinking about moving to the sunshine themselves.” The state, though, has a very different reputation today.
Gavin Newsom would be the first former California governor elected to the presidency since Ronald Reagan in 1980. However, Reagan’s successful presidential campaign didn’t happen until five years after he left office as governor. Newsom’s current term expires in January of 2027.
Expertise and Experience:
Stephen Silver is a Senior Editor for 19FortyFive. He is an award-winning journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.