After the midterm elections, it was not more than a week before Gavin Newsom’s presidential options were being discussed. One Republican consultant suggested Joe Biden request Kamala Harris’ resignation, and that Newsom be his vice-president. Biden could then resign, leaving Newsom president or allow him to run for semi-incumbent office in 2024.
No matter how many turns it takes, there will always be a train accident at the station.
Don’t let the margins of victory (59-41) or 2018 (62-38) fool you. His public life has not been anything that would recommend him for the presidency. Popular, yes, competent, no.
Newsom was San Francisco’s first mayor before he was elected governor. He promised to end homelessness in San Francisco within a decade during his first year of office. Either the promise was broken or it was empty. Newsom’s tenure saw homelessness rise from 5,404 in 2005, to 5,669 by 2011.
It wasn’t because he was bad luck that he couldn’t eliminate homelessness. Poor judgment was the reason. Newsom relied heavily on government responses from the past, which have not been successful. The state homeless crisis, which has grown exponentially under Newsom’s governorship, shows that putting more money into failing programs won’t make them better.
Newsom is not only unable to address homelessness. His policy portfolio is a strong indicator that he is ill-equipped. His record shows that he is ill-equipped and has shown poor management. He supports energy policies that are perfect for virtue-signaling, but which are disastrous as a matter real and practical. He refuses to reduce the burden on taxpayers or ease the burden of regulation for businesses. He does little to alleviate the state’s housing crisis or improve its failing public school system.
Add to that California’s crime epidemic, its perpetual drought and raging wildfires and growing public-employee liability, an embarrassing poverty problem (the country’s highest), an outdated and broken tax system and an unemployment department which paid out more fraud than $30 billion yet struggled in processing payments to legitimate beneficiaries, and you have a recipe for disaster.
While policy failures are one thing; Newsom does not inspire confidence in his ability or willingness to lead by example. He held the state in his emergency power (which he won’t surrender until 2023), but he also attended a dinner with cronies at an upscale Napa Valley restaurant. He did not have the “backbone” to resist teachers unions who prevented schools from reopening for too long. This led to a huge learning loss for students and caused a lot of confusion for them. The governor also sent his children to private schools which had reopened to some extent.
Newsom tends to get flustered when he is challenged. During the recall campaign in 2021, Newsom became almost belligerent during a virtual meeting of the editorial and opinion writers of McClatchy’s California newspapers. He was described as “unhinged,” odd, testy, and angry at his responses to more routine questions than provocative.
If Donald Trump had answered standard questions in the same manner as Newsom, doubts about Trump’s leadership abilities would have filled newspapers and television. The governor of California suffered neither personally nor politically. The editorial boards voted against his recall with a few exceptions. Voters strongly supported him at polls. Only 38% wanted him to be thrown out.
Newsom has been underwritten and groomed by wealthy patrons. He also uses a language only understood in blue states and looks like a Hollywood star. Newsom does not need to run for reelection. He’s their man because he can easily incite resentment against his political opponents that reinforces his supporters’ biases. Newsom seems more like a demagogue who panders to fringe sections of America’s Left than to his constituents, which are much more diverse than he believes.
Newsom should remain in California for the next four years, despite his ability to increase the blood pressure of the populists. He should also try to make progress on the state he claims he loves. He will have something to run for if he achieves some success. His record, as it stands now, is one of failures and hypocrisy that appeals only to fringe segments of the American electorate. Americans don’t need another Hollywood elite representative and their friends in Washington.