The Pennsylvania senator seems these days to be saying whatever he feels like, including taking a shot at a member of his own party.
Since arriving in the Senate back in January, Sen. John Fetterman (D-PA) has had an eventful time. He was elected while recovering from a stroke, and not long after that, he was hospitalized for several weeks for clinical depression.
More recently, Fetterman was at the center of a bizarre dispute over the Senate dress code, and more recently, the senator has angered much of his base by loudly defending Israel.
One easily gets the impression that the senator, who doesn’t have to run for re-election for five years, is merely saying what he feels like without much concern for political considerations.
There was another example of that over the weekend when Fetterman took a shot at another Democrat, California Gov. Gavin Newsom.
“There are two additional Democrats running for Pennsylvania, excuse me, running for president right now,” Fetterman said Saturday at an Iowa Democratic Party dinner, as reported by NBC News. “One is a congressman from Minnesota, the other one is the governor of California, but only one has the guts to announce it.”
Rep. Dean Phillips (D-MN) is running for president against Biden, last month becoming the first elected official to challenge the president in the Democratic primaries.
Newsom is not running for president and has endorsed Biden and acted as a campaign surrogate for the president. But at the same time, Newsom has been doing a lot of things that presidential candidates typically do, such as going to early primary states, visiting China, weighing in on major national issues, and even agreeing to debate Republican presidential candidate Ron DeSantis.
The California governor is widely seen as seeking to position himself for a presidential run in 2028 when, whether Trump or Biden wins in 2024, the presidential race will be wide open. There is also speculation that should Biden somehow not be able to stand for re-election, Newsom is positioning himself to step in.
Other candidates have accused Newsom of running for president early, including Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy.
“The man is running for president, doing it and doing it in disguise, doing it with a track record at a state that is more disastrous by the day,” Ramaswamy said, also in Iowa, last month.
Per NBC, Newsom did not respond to a quest for comment.
First elected governor in 2018, Newsom successfully defeated a recall vote in 2021 and was re-elected in 2022; he will be term-limited once his term expires in 2027.
Newsom has also introduced what looks a lot like a signature proposal for a presidential run: A constitutional amendment that would restrict gun ownership. The idea behind it is that while the courts may very well strike down existing gun restrictions on Second Amendment grounds, a constitutional amendment would get around that.
The amendment is meant to “End America’s Gun Violence Crisis,” although it would appear exceedingly unlikely to ever get ratified. No constitutional amendment has passed since 1992, more than 30 years ago.
“People ask me all the time: Do we really need a Constitutional amendment on guns? Yes. Yes, we do,” Newsom said in an email earlier this year to his mailing list. “Because as long as there are far-right judges overturning commonsense gun laws — no law is safe. Not laws passed in California, not laws passed in Congress.”
The idea, most likely, would also be to appeal to Democratic primary voters, many of whom care deeply about the gun violence issue, and may have been disappointed by Democratic candidates of the past. However, Newsom’s proposal would likely mobilize Republican opposition to him, especially since the GOP has been arguing for decades that Democrats secretly want to take away their guns.
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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.