A top Democrat political consultant has openly said what has become increasingly obvious: California Gov. Gavin Newsom is yearning to run for president in 2024. Also coming into focus is the lane being opened for him and how he plans to get on the track.
“The governor’s intentions are easily discernible, despite his claims to the contrary,” Douglas Schoen, a veteran Democrat insider best known for his service in the Bill Clinton administration, wrote July 14 in an op-ed for The Orange County Register. “Newsom has insisted that he has no interest in seeking the presidency, but we shouldn’t assign much weight to these claims. Actions speak louder than words, and Newsom’s actions strongly suggest that he is trying to put himself on the radar of Democratic donors and elites if, for whatever reason, [President Joe] Biden does not seek a second term.”
Kamala Roadkill on Newsom Highway
Schoen correctly noted that Newsom is earnestly endeavoring to raise his national profile in order to present himself as the best alternative for Democrats should the ever-stumbling, addled, and deeply unpopular Biden either choose to bow out of a 2024 run or have that choice made for him behind the scenes by the blue-shaded Washington establishment forces that run the party via the Democratic National Committee.
Schoen also highlighted who is not likely to get in Newsom’s way under such a scenario. “Democratic elites and donors are skittish over the prospect of [Vice President Kamala] Harris at the top of the ticket, and with good reason,” he continued. “Her average approval rating is even lower than Biden’s, as approximately 39% of voters approve of Harris, compared to 41% for Biden, according to FiveThirtyEight’s aggregation of recent polls. She also has the lowest net favorability rating of any vice president in recent history, per recent NBC News polling.”
Even dominant media outlets that have been egregious in their labored efforts to put a positive spin on Biden’s gaffe-filled tenure have picked up on Newsom’s maneuverings. “Newsom, whose second and final term concludes at the end of 2026, has seen his national profile grow since he easily beat back a recall attempt in 2021 and cruised to reelection last fall. He finished the midterm campaign with roughly $16 million in the bank. And in March, he channeled $10 million to a new political action committee he’s calling the Campaign for Democracy,” Associated Press observed in late June.
The article explained Newsom’s strategy:
“All the while, Newsom’s team has been moving deliberately to avoid the perception that he’s running a shadow presidential campaign just as Biden ramps up his political activities.
For example, Newsom’s new PAC is initially focusing on challenging Republican leaders in deep-red states that are largely irrelevant in the 2024 presidential race. He campaigned in Alabama, Arkansas and Mississippi in April on his first trip associated with the PAC.
Newsom will avoid battleground states or key presidential primary states for the foreseeable future, his allies say.”
Other credentialed political professionals have joined Schoen in calling out Newsom’s transparent approach. “That is just hogwash,” David McCuan, a political science professor at Sonoma State University in California, told The Washington Times, referring to the notion that Newsom was traveling to multiple states merely to show his support for Biden. “They have considered [a presidential run] a long time, and they think he can remake the Democratic Party into a new coalition.”
The Times’ piece points out that a primary challenge to an incumbent Biden, no matter how weak he may be, would be a bad look for Newsom. Fortunately for him, there is a much better way, and it is well within the realm of possibility. “McCuan said Newsom is unlikely to jump into the race himself and wants to be drafted to give the appearance that he is responding to popular demand. Rumblings of that demand are percolating,” the paper stated.
Playing on Establishment Fantasies
This is the lane, and that is how to get there. Predictably, this strategy, which is undoubtedly being followed to the letter by Newsom and his advisers, centers around the favorite daydream of Swamp politicos on both sides of the aisle.
For some time now, leading political voices and a complicit big-box media have trotted out a lame establishment narrative that the country is “tired” of both Biden and his predecessor, former President Donald Trump. The not-so-clever idea is to shackle Trump to the sinking ship that is the Biden administration. If this establishment feels jettisoning the doddering Biden can help achieve the coveted goal of eliminating Trump from the 2024 picture, it will not hesitate to pull the eject button on him.
The flaw in this deluded plan, of course, is the notion that Trump’s ardent supporters, who make up the vast majority of Republican grassroots voters, are going to find this little piece of theater acceptable in any way.
There are truths to be found in cold cash. The betting odds on a Newsom 2024 run show just how strong the chances are. A Real Clear Politics “Betting Average” has Newsom in second place for the Democratic nomination at 13.8%. Biden is first at 59.5%, with outsider candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. at 10.1% and Harris lagging woefully behind at only 5.6%.
With apologies to John Lennon, a Double Fantasy may be at play here. Gavin Newsom, the male-model governor of an ultra-progressive California, thoroughly enjoys seeing himself as a knight in shining armor. Democrats and their Republican establishment allies in the Swamp long to be rid of Trump. Drafting the Boy Hero from the West Coast to enable the country to “move on” from Trump at the expense of a stale Biden would be a dream scenario for 2024.
Alas, fantasies are just that, pleasing inventions of the mind with little to no connection with reality. But that hasn’t stopped an out-of-touch DC political establishment yet. And so dashing Sir Gavin may mount his charger after all. But there is no reason to believe it is a horse the Swamp can ride.
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