Just as the golden age of hip hop was animated by conflicts between East Coast and West Coast figures, the same appears to be true in 2022 politics, with California’s Governor inserting himself into Florida’s gubernatorial race.
Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom is pledging $100,000 of support for Florida’s Democratic nominee for Governor, Charlie Crist, with the goal of denying DeSantis a second term.
“Time to make Ron DeSantis a one-term governor. I’m pledging $100k right now,” Newsom tweeted. “Who will join me in helping Charlie become the next Governor of Florida?”
Newsom’s vow seems to be an early sign that after months of Democratic gubernatorial candidates trailing DeSantis badly in the cash races, help may be on the way from blue state Democrats. That’s a read affirmed by the Crist camp.
“It’s a clear sign of the national enthusiasm for defeating Ron DeSantis,” said Campaign Manager Austin Durrer.
There is precedent, of course, for national players getting involved in Florida’s gubernatorial election. The 2018 governor’s race saw outside money pour in for Democrat Andrew Gillum, though that contest was characterized by polls consistently showing Gillum ahead until the time people actually started casting votes.
Newsom has already messaged against DeSantis once this cycle, taking a page out of the Florida Governor’s playbook with an ad buy on Fox News, where he inverted the DeSantis construct of the Free State of Florida to suggest DeSantis is actually restricting freedoms.
“Freedom, it’s under attack in your state,” Newsom said. “Your Republican leaders, they’re banning books, making it harder to vote, restricting speech in classrooms, even criminalizing women and doctors,” Newsom continued, backdropped by images of DeSantis and mainstream media headlines blasting DeSantis.
“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 added. “Don’t let them take your freedom.”
Polling in Newsom’s home state shows DeSantis, despite being nearly 3,000 miles away, is a figure of fascination with Golden State Republicans, 31% of whom say they would vote for him in a GOP Primary. It appears the antagonism has mutual benefit, with Newsom atop a diffuse presidential field on the Democratic side in 2024.
The political feud benefits both sides, in other words.
We reached out to the DeSantis campaign for comment on Newsom’s pledge. We never got it. But the campaign apparatus did attempt to weaponize the event.
The DeSantis War Room responded with a Twitter video spotlighting negative news stories about homelessness, crime and other issues in California, interspersed with pictures of Newsom and screenshots of tweets from Crist and him.
“Yesterday, Charlie Crist told Floridians he doesn’t want our votes. Today, Charlie Crist thanked the governor of the failed state of California for his money. Priorities! Join us on a tour of Gavin Newsom’s Dystopia-by-the-Sea to learn why we say ‘Don’t California My Florida,'” tweeted the rapid response arm of the Governor’s re-election campaign.
Rapid response director Christina Pushaw also offered takes on her personal Twitter account Thursday.
“Who needs opposition research when your opponents are like this,” she asserted.
By Friday morning, a fundraising email was sent to supporters.
“Gavin Newsom’s obsession with Florida and Governor DeSantis continues to grow as he pledges $100,000 to Charlie Crist — the man who has already declared he doesn’t want your vote,” the email contended, promising more Democratic governors would follow Newsom’s lead.