In preparation for the 2024 election and a possible presidential bid, California Governor Gavin Newsom dumped $10 million on a new political action committee on Thursday.
Using the surplus funds from his 2022 gubernatorial campaign, in which he comfortably defeated an obscure Republican opponent, Newsom has begun his Campaign for Democracy.
Newsom announced the committee in a video and vowed to take on “authoritarian leaders” including Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Texas Governor Greg Abbott, and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.
“What’s happening in those red states?” Newsom asked. “That’s not who we are. It’s un-American. It’s un-democratic.”
Newsom stated that the governors were to blame for the bullying of transgender youngsters and the banning of books. Democrats have defended Newsom’s use of public funds to cover the medical costs of undocumented immigrants and to transport women from neighboring states for abortions, but Republicans have condemned him for doing so.
“There’s a reason why Gavin Newsom never focuses on the problems he’s caused in his own state,” Sanders spokesperson Alexa Henning said. “California residents are experiencing sky-high rent but Governor Sanders is living rent-free in his head.”
For the first part of next week, Newsom and his family will travel to the states of Alabama, Arkansas, and Mississippi to meet with Democratic activists there who are working to do things like to expand Medicaid and fight back against the educational policies proposed by Sanders.
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A spokesman for the Democratic Governors Association, Nathan Click, said that before that, the governor would be making an appearance at a fundraiser in Florida on Saturday. One common strategy for aspiring politicians to launch a presidential bid is to flood rival contenders with campaign donations.
Donations to political campaigns are typically directed toward “swing” or “early” states with presidential primaries. To transform the Democratic Party’s message, however, Newsom is willing to take on states that are of little strategic political significance to the party.
“He’s been saying we can’t go just to the 12 states that are on the line; we’ve got to go to the states where we lose and help the people who are on the front lines with these fights,” Click said.
Several Democrats have made public appearances in Republican strongholds to lend support to candidates.
Following his record-breaking but ultimately unsuccessful 2020 Senate campaign against South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham, Jaime Harrison launched Dirt Road PAC in an effort to use his newfound status as a fundraising powerhouse to give other Democrats a consistent boost and hopefully help flip more areas from red to blue.
California's Newsom starts tour to boost red-state Democrats https://t.co/XoWl3sHeS0
— ABC10 (@ABC10) March 31, 2023
While Harrison has been chair of the Democratic National Committee, Dirt Road has continued to operate, according to federal papers, raising around $200,000 by year’s end.
Jeremy Bird, who had served as the national field director for President Obama’s reelection campaign the year before, helped found Battleground Texas in 2013, a group that promised to devote substantial resources and manpower to advancing Democratic causes in the most Republican state in the country.
They put a lot of money into Wendy Davis’s unsuccessful 2014 gubernatorial campaign, but the Democrat has still not won a statewide position in Texas since 1994, the longest losing streak in the country.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts), who announced her withdrawal from the 2020 presidential race and the formation of a political organization called Warren Democrats, has also gotten in on the action.
Warren Democrats endorsed, campaigned with, and provided financial and logistical support for progressive congressional candidates during the 2018 and 2020 election cycles. Newsom’s name was floated as a potential replacement for President Joe Biden in 2024, but he quickly shut down those rumors, saying he had no desire to run for president.
Nonetheless, he has continued to build his profile as a national leader, spending his campaign money for governor last year on ads in Republican-led states like Florida and Texas.
“He’s clearly building his national profile and presence,” said Eric Schickler, a political science professor at the University of California, Berkeley. “It’s a way that taps into something that a lot of Democrats have been concerned about, which is that there is not much of a party presence in a lot of the red states.”
Newsom’s second term as governor ends in 2026, and he has already stated that he will not challenge Joe Biden for the presidency. If he were to run in 2028, he would face fellow Californian and current Vice President Kamala Harris.
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