Metro Weekly

Gavin Newsom to Florida: Move to California for “Freedom”

California governor's "re-election" ad sparks speculation about a potential Newsom-DeSantis faceoff for the presidency.

Gavin Newsom – Photo: Youtube

California Gov. Gavin Newsom has released a commercial attacking Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a potential political rival, by encouraging Floridians to move to California if they dislike the right-wing agenda being pursued by Florida lawmakers.

In a 30-second spot that began airing on Monday, Newsom tells Floridians that freedom is “under attack in your state,” courtesy of Republican lawmakers.

He cites laws that have been passed banning all abortions after 15 weeks, restricting mail-in voting and prohibiting the practice of handing out food or water to people waiting in line to vote.

Newsom also alludes to an anti-“critical race theory” law that has led to math books being banned in the state, and the infamous “Don’t Say Gay” law, which Republicans have touted as a parental-rights measure designed to ensure children are not exposed to LGBTQ content in schools.

“Freedom, it’s under attack in your state. Republican leaders, they’re banning books, making it harder to vote, restricting speech in classrooms, even criminalizing women and doctors,” Newsom says while images of DeSantis and former President Donald Trump flash on screen, along with photos of long voting lines, kids in classrooms, and a woman in a prison line-up.

“I urge all of you living in Florida to join the fight. Or join us in California, where we still believe in freedom — freedom of speech, freedom to choose, freedom from hate, and the freedom to love,” Newsom says as the song “America, The Beautiful” plays softly in the background. “Don’t let them take your freedom.”

Both Newsom and DeSantis are running for re-election this year in their respective states.

While Newsom’s ad is paid for by “Newsom for California – Governor 2022,” the ad has led to speculation that the California governor, who is mentioned as a possible Democratic nominee for president in 2024, is seeking to undercut a potential political foe in DeSantis, who is considered a potential Republican nominee for the presidency.

Neither man has officially announced their intention to seek the presidency, and both would face uphill battles in primaries — Newsome against President Biden (or Kamala Harris, should Biden opt not to run for re-election), and DeSantis against former President Trump. Yet both are considered young “rising stars” in their respective political parties and have lobbed barbs against each other’s policies in the past.

Recent polling even suggests that Newsom might be stronger than Harris in a general election against either Trump or DeSantis.

Newsom handily beat back a recall attempt last year and is expected to be re-elected easily this November in left-leaning California. DeSantis is likely to face either U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist — himself a former governor — or Nikki Fried, Florida’s Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

Fried responded to Newsom’s commercial attacking DeSantis on Twitter, tweeting, “Thanks, but I’ve got him.”

This isn’t the first time that DeSantis has been criticized by an out-of-state politician airing ads encouraging Floridians to uproot themselves and move if they disagree with the political direction in which the state is headed. 

In April, New York City Mayor Eric Adams launched a digital billboard campaign encouraging people opposed to the “Don’t Say Gay” law, especially members of the LGBTQ community, to move north.

The campaign was promoted in five different media markets across the state. DeSantis spokesperson Christina Pushaw hit back against Adams, calling the campaign a political stunt and “desperate.” She encouraged those who disagree with the law to go ahead and leave the state, noting that migration to Florida from New York and other metropolitan areas has only increased since 2020 — which she attributed to the state’s sunny climate, its low tax burden, and lack of COVID restrictions.

Dave Abrams, a spokesperson for DeSantis’s re-election campaign, dismissed Newsom’s ad as bluster.

“The people of Florida pay no mind to the pathetic smear campaigns from the Democrats and their allies in the corporate media,” Abrams told the conservative Daily Wire. “We’re too busy enjoying the freedom Gov. Ron DeSantis has created in the Sunshine State.

“Gavin Newsom might as well light a pile of cash on fire. Pass the popcorn for his desperate attempt to win back the California refugees who fled the hellhole he created in his state to come to Florida.”

But New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, a fellow Democrat, told CNN’s Brianna Keilar that he liked Newsom’s approach of taking the fight to DeSantis’s home turf, according to The Hill. 

“I think we need to stand up and be counted and make sure we remind folks around the country, if you value values, come to states like New Jersey. I suspect that’s exactly what Gov. Newsom has in mind in terms of California’s values.”

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