California Governor Gavin Newsom Criticizes Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ Culture War Campaign During Surprise Visit to New College of Florida

California Governor Gavin Newsom made a surprise visit to Sarasota, Florida, on Wednesday to meet with students and faculty at the New College of Florida.[0] The college has recently become a battleground in the state’s culture wars after Florida Governor Ron DeSantis appointed six new conservative board members in January with a mandate to transform the public liberal arts honors college.[1] The board has since abolished the institution’s “equity” ideology for a merit-based approach and eliminated the college office handling diversity, equity, and inclusion programs.[1] Newsom’s visit is part of a national campaign to speak out against red state policies, and he criticized DeSantis for his culture war campaign and attacks on voting rights, civil rights, LGBTQ rights, abortion rights, and contraceptive rights.

In response, DeSantis’ press secretary Bryan Griffin called out Newsom’s attacks, saying that the governor is focused on getting Florida’s public institutions of higher learning refocused on academics and truth.[2] Newsom’s visit to Florida comes in the wake of DeSantis’ trip to California last month, where he delivered a speech at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and threw shade at the Golden State for its “hemorrhaging population” that he blamed on “leftist politicians.”[3] Both Newsom and DeSantis are term-limited from running for governor again and are seen as harboring presidential ambitions for 2024.[4]

The New College of Florida visit was a last-minute addition to Newsom’s trip through Republican-controlled states in the south, where the governor has been criticizing policies he says infringe on people’s freedoms.[5] He is set to travel to Alabama, Arkansas, and Mississippi this week and confer with activists who are pushing for progressive causes such as expanding Medicaid.[6] He transferred a sum of $10 million to a political action committee with the intention of bolstering Democratic backing in areas that are traditionally Republican.[6] Newsom’s trip is part of a swing through states that are enacting policies widely criticized on the left, including aggressive new abortion restrictions and education legislation aimed at curtailing discussion of LGBTQ issues.[4]

It is anticipated that DeSantis will soon declare his candidacy for the presidential elections in 2024, whereas Newsom has refrained from doing so and has expressed his backing for President Joe Biden.[4] DeSantis is also scheduled to speak at Hillsdale College, a small, Christian classical liberal arts college in southern Michigan that he has praised as a model for transforming New College of Florida into a more conservative institution.[7] The school has become a battleground in Florida’s culture wars, with DeSantis and the GOP-dominated legislature moving the state further right and waging a war on what the governor has called “woke” agendas.[8]

0. “Gavin Newsom Laughs at Ron DeSantis in His Own Backyard” Newsweek, 5 Apr. 2023,

1. “Gavin Newsom visits New College of Florida” Florida’s Voice, 5 Apr. 2023,

2. “California Gov. Gavin Newsom visits New College, countering DeSantis” Tampa Bay Times, 5 Apr. 2023,

3. “Gavin Newsom visits with Florida college students at center of Ron DeSantis culture war” Sacramento Bee, 5 Apr. 2023,

4. “California Gov. Newsom rips Florida Gov. DeSantis during Sarasota visit with New College students” Yahoo! Voices, 5 Apr. 2023,

5. “California Gov. Newsom rips DeSantis during Sarasota visit with New College students” Yahoo Finance, 5 Apr. 2023,

6. “Newsom taunts DeSantis on home turf in visit with Florida students” Washington Examiner, 5 Apr. 2023,

7. “Ron Desantis visiting Michigan, the ‘anti-Florida’, on Thursday” FOX 2 Detroit, 6 Apr. 2023,

8. “DeSantis speaks at Dave Camp Spring Breakfast in Midland” The Pioneer, 6 Apr. 2023,

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