Gavin Newsom goes after guns and oil companies – is this his strategy for 2028?: Gov. Gavin Newsom recently announced a lawsuit against the major oil companies, after previously announcing a proposed constitutional amendment on guns. Is this his plan to become the Democrats’ post-Biden standard bearer?
Gavin Newsom Makes a Big Move
California Gov. Gavin Newsom is not running for president in 2024. He has made it clear that he supports President Biden’s re-election and that he will not be challenging Biden for the presidency. Sure, there are all sorts of conspiracy theories that the Democrats will switch out Biden at the last minute in favor of Newsom, but there’s no reason to believe any of that is true.
That said, Newsom is doing a lot of things that indicate that he would very much like to emerge as the Democratic standard bearer, in a post-Biden world, and that we can likely expect him to run for president in 2028. Part of that is some big swings that Democrats have resisted doing in the past, and which seem like possible signature proposals for a future presidential run.
First, back in June, Newsom announced a proposed 28th Amendment to the Constitution, which would “end America’s gun violence crisis.” The amendment consists of several provisions that have been part of Democratic proposals on guns in the past — universal background checks, raising the age of eligibility to purchase guns to 21, and banning civilian purchase of assault weapons — but are in the form of a constitutional amendment, rather than a law. Therefore, it won’t stand the risk of being struck down by the courts.
“While leaving the 2nd Amendment unchanged and respecting America’s gun-owning tradition, the Governor’s proposal guarantees common sense constitutional protections and gun safety measures that Democrats, Republicans, independent voters, and gun owners overwhelmingly support,” Newsom’s announcement of the proposed amendment says.
Newsom, along with California Attorney General Rob Bonta, announced last week that they have sued five major oil companies — Exxon, Shell, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, and BP — as well as their trade group, the American Petroleum Institute. Chevron is based in California.
“Oil executives deceived the public for decades about how fossil fuels are hurting our health and destroying our planet, protecting their own profits while sticking taxpayers with the bill for the damages,” Newsom’s office said in its announcement on September 16. “California is suing these big polluters to hold them accountable for their decades of deception, cover-up, and billions of dollars in harm done to our state.”
The suit asks for the oil companies to pay for several things, including recovery efforts for disaster and extreme heat caused by climate change, managing of dwindling water supplies, and “fortifying infrastructure and homes against sea level rise and coastal and inland flooding.”
When a state sues private industry, it’s normally the attorney general, and not the governor, who brings the action, although in this case, Newsom and Bonta brought it together. Other states have brought such suits against oil companies in the past. A spokesperson told Politico that Newsom moved forward after the Supreme Court to allow existing local suits to go forward in state court, rather than federal court.
The American Petroleum Institute pushed back against the suit.
“This ongoing, coordinated campaign to wage meritless, politicized lawsuits against a foundational American industry and its workers is nothing more than a distraction from important national conversations and an enormous waste of California taxpayer resources,” API senior vice president Ryan Meyers said in a statement to the press.
“Addressing climate change requires a collaborative, society-wide approach,” Shell Oil said in its own statement, per the AP. “We agree that action is needed now on climate change, and we fully support the need for society to transition to a lower-carbon future.”
Author 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. Stephen has authored thousands of articles over the years that focus on politics, technology, and the economy for over a decade. Follow him on X (formerly Twitter) at @StephenSilver, and subscribe to his Substack newsletter.