SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Governor Gavin Newsom is on the national stage in New York this week talking about California’s climate commitment. In a common move of his, he took aim at Republican governors.
"Those conservative governors out there, Greg Abbott and others, they're as dumb as they want to be," Newsom said at the Clinton Global Initiative Meeting. "And they're just doubling down on stupid, and we will not follow their path."
On Friday, Newsom challenged Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis to a debate.
“I’ll bring my hair gel, you bring your hairspray” he said in the tweet.
The day before, on Thursday, he purchased billboards in seven red states with anti-abortion policies.
“Texas doesn’t own your body, you do” the billboards read.
In a recent campaign email, Newsom says he’s doing all this not because he’s running for higher office but to sleep at night.
"I gotta sleep at night, and that means confronting people like Abbott and DeSantis," Newsom wrote.
“Voters are not voting in 2022 general election, are not motivated significantly more than they normally would be, to vote based upon abortion or to be vote based on climate change,” Pollster Adam Probolsky said.
Probolsky calls the issues Newsom is focusing on "building blocks."
“I think the governor probably thinks he's solid for November, and he wants to start making a name for himself outside of California,” he said.
Probolsky said when it comes to issues like climate change, Californians already believe the state is headed in the right direction. The top issues right now are financial ones, like the economy and inflation. The voting block Probolsky said Newsom should focus on is the Latino base, the group that disproportionately suffered the most economically during the state’s COVID shut downs.
“I don’t know if you saw the Newsom versus Desantis poll we did, which is probably one of the most ridiculous questions I've ever asked," Probolsky said. "In California, who you're gonna vote for? Of course, California is voting for our governor, but it does show those really interesting little places like the Latinos where DeSantis shows some strength.”
The poll shows California Latino voters split among the two governors.
Political analyst and UC Berkeley Professor Omar Wasow said it’s time to take a closer look at why, despite Newsom telling people to come to California, the numbers show people leaving.
“For Newsom to make the case that he should be seen as a national progressive leader, he really needs to show more progress in California on issues like homelessness, energy costs, transportation," Wasow said. "California remains the number one state for poverty.”
Waslow cited numerous bills siting on Newsom’s desk to combat the housing issue that would show his commitment to the issue. They would make it easier to build housing on commercial-zoned land that the governor only has 2 more weeks to sign or veto.
What Newsom is doing is, in a way, working. This article right now is addressing his political stunts, just like every other national outlet is doing.
If he wanted to start getting Republicans to tilt towards him though, Probolsky argues Newsom needs to start using Republican voting issues to his advantage.
He said, as a border state, there’s is a huge opportunity for Newsom to talk about border security without doing it in a mean or angry way, but acknowledging that there is work to be done.
"Quite frankly, I think there's some part of that speaks to Democratic voters," Probolsky said. "Not the hate and anger part of it, but the part that says, 'Yeah, that's a little bit weird. Why don't we protect our border? And are there really 10s of 1,000s of people crossing our borders that are not documented? or coming here in maybe a fashion that's a little bit too easy compared to how my people came here?'"