Two notably young and high-profile governors, Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom of California and Republican Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida, known for captivating national attention and energizing their party bases, are set to engage in a face-to-face clash.
After nearly two years of verbal sparring, DeSantis, eyeing the 2024 GOP presidential nomination, and Newsom, deflecting accusations of a covert White House campaign, will participate in a debate moderated by Fox News’ prime-time host Sean Hannity. Titled “DeSantis vs. Newsom: The Great Red vs. Blue State Debate,” the event will unfold in Alpharetta, Georgia, a once red state now crucial in national elections.
DeSantis, during a recent campaign stop in New Hampshire, where the first primary and second overall contest in the GOP presidential nominating calendar is held, expressed, “He caters to a very far-left slice of the electorate. I think that will be on display when we have the debate.”
Conversely, Newsom, appearing on Fox News’ “Hannity” earlier this autumn, pointed to DeSantis, stating, “I don’t like people who demonize other people or go after vulnerable communities. I also don’t like liars.”
Both governors possess significant national profiles, govern the first and third most populous states in the nation, and secured overwhelming re-election victories last year, intensifying their rivalry. In 2022, Newsom aired an ad in Florida criticizing DeSantis’ culture war approach, asserting, “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.”
DeSantis, celebrated by conservatives for resisting pandemic restrictions, earlier this year labeled San Francisco, where Newsom served two terms as mayor, a “dumpster fire.”
The governors, engaged in prolonged social media battles over their divergent COVID policies, have recently sparred over DeSantis flying undocumented migrants to California. Border security, a key issue for DeSantis, has been prominently featured in his 2024 Republican presidential campaign.
In a recent development, a Newsom-aligned political group launched an ad on Fox News’ “Hannity,” criticizing DeSantis over the six-week abortion ban he signed into law in Florida earlier this year. According to Ryan Williams, a seasoned Republican strategist, and communicator, “They’re perfect foils for one another.
They both lead some of the biggest states in the country. They both have very prominent roles in their respective parties, and they both love attention.” Williams emphasized that attacking each other serves their interests, mobilizing their bases and providing a national platform for their ongoing feud.