As the recall election approaches, Democrat California Gov. Gavin Newsom is on defense, claiming that if he is booted from office, the state under Republican leadership would go the way of Florida under popular GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis.
At the same time, conservatives who hope to replace Newsom, including radio talk show host Larry Elder, are holding up states like Florida as a role model for the far-left-wing Golden State.
Politico reported on the left and right coasts rivalry:
The latest state-on-state tensions show just how much power governors have amassed during the Covid-19 pandemic as they’ve set policies on masks, closures, schools and vaccines. DeSantis and Newsom have become party figureheads in their own right, the former a stand-in for open rules, the latter for strong mandates.
The latest polling suggests California is closer to having a DeSantis-like governor than anyone thought. And those Florida comparisons — with anti-recall proponents begging voters not to “DeSantis my California” — are escalating as the Delta variant surges and the Sept. 14 election looms. Ballots have already been mailed to California voters.
“Your daily reminder that on September 14th the Republican party is trying to drive CA off the same cliff as Florida and Texas,” Newsom said in a recent tweet, urging people to vote. “They want to pretend COVID doesn’t exist. Reverse the progress we’ve made on vaccines. Ban masking. And put partisan games over people’s lives.”
Newsom’s allies are alway weighing in.
“I know this is not a political press conference, but I cannot miss the opportunity to say that if Californians do not participate in the special election coming up, this could be our fate as well,” Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said this month at Newsom’s announcement about rules for masks in schools, comparing the mandate to DeSantis’s ban on the practice.
Meanwhile, at a recall debate hosted at the Richard Nixon Library in Yorba Linda, Newsom opponents are praising Florida. Candidate John Cox said:
What we need to do is look at what other states have done. I mean, I compare California to Florida. I have two nephews that live in Orlando, they were able to go to school the whole time in front of a teacher. Kids in California were not given that privilege by Gov. Newsom.
“Hoover Institution fellow Bill Whalen, who advised former California Republican Gov. Pete Wilson, said that no comparisons will help some voters turn away from checking ‘yes’ on recall ballots next month,” Politico reported. “Newsom’s biggest enemy isn’t DeSantis or Elder, Whalen said. It’s himself.”
“If Gavin Newsom is recalled, it won’t be because he wasn’t DeSantis enough, it will be because he is too Gavin-like,” Whalen said. “We seem to see this as a governor versus a field of opponents, but really it’s the governor versus himself.”
Follow Penny Starr on Twitter or send news tips to email@example.com.