By Joseph Ax
(Reuters) – Shortly after Wednesday’s second Republican presidential debate concluded, California Governor Gavin Newsom was holding court docket within the so-called “spin room,” bouncing from one community to a different to tout Democratic President Joe Biden as the true winner of the night.
It was an more and more acquainted place for Newsom, who has emerged as maybe the Biden re-election marketing campaign’s most seen consultant.
Newsom’s function as Biden’s cheerleader-in-chief has additionally boosted his personal nationwide profile forward of 2028, when he’s broadly anticipated to think about a White Home run.
Whether or not Biden wins in 2024 or not, Democrats will want a brand new standard-bearer in 2028, with many within the social gathering calling for a youthful, extra energetic chief. Newsom is close to the highest of an inventory that features Vice President Kamala Harris, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer and Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro, amongst others.
Newsom has remained within the highlight because the debate. On Thursday, he signed a invoice elevating the minimal wage for the state’s half-million quick meals staff, a significant victory for labor leaders. The information on Friday of U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein’s demise meant Newsom could have the job of naming a substitute to assist defend Democrats’ slim Senate majority.
Whereas the governor has repeatedly denied any curiosity in usurping Biden because the social gathering’s presumptive nominee subsequent yr, he can be among the many main options alongside Harris – a fellow Californian – if the 80-year-old Biden had been pressured to step apart.
“It is a win-win,” mentioned Steven Maviglio, a veteran Democratic strategist in California. “It advantages Biden, and it advantages Newsom.”
Newsom’s workplace and his political motion committee didn’t reply to requests for remark.
Newsom made headlines final yr when he urged Democrats to take a extra combative tack, saying the social gathering was getting “destroyed” on messaging by Republicans.
He has taken his personal recommendation to coronary heart. In November, Newsom and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who’s searching for the Republican presidential nomination, will meet in an uncommon one-on-one televised debate, with Fox Information host Sean Hannity moderating.
Newsom, elected twice as governor of the nation’s most populous state, has spent a lot of 2023 constructing a nationwide community of supporters. In March, he launched a political motion committee, Marketing campaign for Democracy, with $10 million focusing on conservative states comparable to Alabama and Arkansas.
In latest weeks, Newsom has signed or promised to signal a flurry of payments handed by California’s Democratic-majority legislature, together with a first-in-the-nation excise tax on gun and ammunition gross sales and a requirement that enormous companies disclose their carbon footprint.
However he has additionally vetoed a number of payments backed by progressives, together with one that may have barred driverless heavy-duty vans and one other that may have required judges to think about parental acceptance of kids’s gender identities in deciding custody circumstances.
Jane Kim, the California director of the liberal Working Households Celebration, mentioned Newsom deserves credit score for a lot of of his achievements. Nevertheless, she mentioned progressives want he had completed extra to push liberal priorities comparable to single-payer healthcare, a coverage he ran on in 2018.
“We have seen him thread that needle, as a result of it is clear he has an eye fixed to a extra nationwide profile, not simply California voters,” she mentioned.
Newsom’s choice on Feinstein’s substitute may very well be politically fraught.
He has beforehand mentioned he would elevate a Black lady if the publish turned vacant. However he has additionally mentioned he wouldn’t decide one of many candidates working for the seat in 2024, disappointing supporters of U.S. Consultant Barbara Lee, who’s vying with a number of different Democrats.
Whereas Newsom has touted California’s success in advancing labor unions, local weather protections, gun security and social justice, he would face some vital obstacles in working for nationwide workplace.
Republicans typically painting California as a bastion of leftist extremism. Critics level to persistent homelessness and an absence of inexpensive housing in among the state’s largest cities.
DeSantis referred to his November debate with Newsom at an occasion in Lengthy Seaside, California, on Friday, calling the state “the Petri dish for leftism on this nation.”
Newsom is also a white man in a celebration whose voters are desirous to elevate ladies and candidates of coloration, particularly after Biden’s tenure, mentioned Eric Schickler, a political science professor on the College of California in Berkeley.
“Typically when politicians go from the state degree to the nationwide degree, they actually wrestle with speaking – you possibly can see that with DeSantis,” Schickler mentioned. “To some extent, it is a dry run for Newsom.”
(Reporting by Joseph Ax; Further reporting by James Oliphant, Tim Reid and Jarrett Renshaw; Modifying by Colleen Jenkins and Cynthia Osterman)