Earlier this month, California Gov. Gavin Newsom criticized Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in a 30-second advertisement that came with a hefty six-figure price tag. Newsom, a Democrat, launched a bold political attack against his Republican counterpart in a $105,000 spot that aired on Fox News in Florida.
Paid for by Newsom’s re-election campaign, the ad titled “Florida Freedom” spoke directly to Florida residents. “Freedom: it’s under attack in your state,” Newsom said as an image of DeSantis shaking hands with former President Donald Trump flashed on the screen while an acoustic version of “America the Beautiful” played in the background.
Newsom has criticized DeSantis and Florida’s Republican legislature for passing numerous laws this year to ban books, limit voting access, restrict speech in school and criminalize a woman’s right to make decisions about her body. The ad ended with a plea from Newsom to Floridians, saying “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.”
The ad aired just days after almost 150 new laws took effect in Florida on July 1. DeSantis said he believes the laws will protect Floridian’s freedoms, including the rights of parents and unborn children. Among the most controversial laws are the state’s 15-week abortion ban and the “Don’t Say Gay” law that prohibits teachers from discussing gender identity and sexuality in kindergarten to third grade classes.
Despite being on opposite sides of the political spectrum, the two governors have one thing in common: overwhelming support from their respective parties. Recent polls show DeSantis will likely be the Republican presidential nominee in 2024 if Trump decides not to run. Newsom, meanwhile, received significant backing from 56% of voters in California’s primaries at the end of June.
Under California’s election system, the top two vote-getters face off in the general election, regardless of their party. Republican Sen. Brian Dahle took second place and trailed far behind Newsom, winning only 17.5% of the votes.
Newsom’s unconventional cross-country, television ad condemning the Republican Florida governor and possible future presidential candidate suggests Newsom is looking towards the 2024 election. Both governors are favored to win re-election Nov. 8 and have formidable support from their parties going forward, making it likely this is the first of many attacks to come.