SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California Gov. Gavin Newsom will travel to Texas on Saturday, venturing into the territory of one of his top political flagships while seeking to boost his own profile amid an uncompetitive re-election campaign at home.
Newsom is on course for an easy win for a second term as governor of the nation’s most populous state, facing a little-known and underfunded Republican challenger a year after defeating a recall attempt.
With little pressure at home, Newsom has looked elsewhere to spend some of the $23 million he has in his campaign account. So far, he’s bought TV ads in Florida urging people to move to California, newspaper ads in Texas denouncing the state’s lax gun laws and billboards in seven states. conservatives – including Texas – urging women to come to California if they need an abortion.
Now Newsom is set to speak at the Texas Tribune Festival in Austin, Texas, billed as a lecture “about what the most populous state in the nation can teach the other 49, including (Texas).”
Newsom’s actions come after he accused his own political party of being too soft, urging them to stand up more forcefully in light of recent conservative U.S. Supreme Court victories that struck down federal abortion protections. and relaxed gun restrictions.
“Our donors are asking for more,” Newsom told reporters last week when asked if his focus on other states signaled he wasn’t taking his re-election campaign seriously. “The people of the State of California are asking for more leadership in this space.”
Newsom has spent most of this week in New York City, speaking at various climate change conferences while taking time to nudge conservative governors who he says are “double their stupidity.” He specifically called out Republican Texas Governor Greg Abbot during a brief interview with the Clinton Global Initiative on Tuesday, saying he and other Republican governors were “as dumb as they want to (be).”
Last week, Newsom asked the US Department of Justice to investigate Father and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis for transporting migrants to other states, which Newsom called “shameful”. DeSantis denied Newsom’s claim at a press conference, saying “Newsom’s hair gel is interfering with his brain function.”
Newsom fired back on Twitter, challenging DeSantis to a debate, saying, “I’ll bring my hair gel. You bring your hair spray.”
Nationally, Democratic President Joe Biden has been less vocal in these political battles, creating an opening for someone like Newsom to step in and take on the Republican Party’s most vocal leaders, said Eric Schickler, co-director of the Institute of Government Studies at the University of California, Berkeley.
“(Biden) is less present in many ways than many presidents,” Schickler said. “It creates a kind of vacuum where ambitious Democrats who want to be part of the national conversation have that kind of space to maybe say things that they want Biden to say that he doesn’t think is appropriate in as president to say or just not his style to do.”
Newsom’s aggression could end up helping Abbott, who is locked in a more competitive race with former congressman Beto O’Rourke. Kenneth Grasso, a political science professor at Texas State University, said some in the Republican Party worried Abbott was “not conservative enough.” Newsom’s attacks on Abbott “only help him with these people,” Grasso said.
“If you insist that they are right-wing, that you call them extremists, using that kind of language, all you’re going to do is increase their popularity among their own base,” he said. -he declares.
Despite that risk, Democrats in Texas appear to be welcoming Newsom’s attention.
“I like this guy,” Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa said of Newsom. “I love how it shows the contrast between what you’re all doing in California and the narrow, extremist positions that are happening here in the state of Texas.”