Governor Gavin Newsom Visits Florida to Condemn Governor Ron DeSantis’s Culture War Campaign

In a display of political rivalry, California Governor Gavin Newsom visited New College of Florida on Wednesday to rebuke Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’s culture war campaign.[0] The small liberal arts school has become a culture war flashpoint under DeSantis, who has appointed a board that dismantled the school’s diversity programs.[1] Newsom’s visit to Florida marks the latest episode in the ongoing showdown between the two governors, who were handily reelected last year after positioning their states as ideological opposites. It is widely anticipated that DeSantis will enter the race for the Republican nomination in the upcoming presidential election, and he has emerged as Newsom’s preferred adversary.[2] He seems to mention DeSantis every chance he gets, in media interviews, at bill signings, and on Twitter.[2]

Newsom met with students and faculty at New College of Florida, assuring them that they are not alone and that they matter.[1] He also criticized DeSantis’s conservative policies, which he believes threaten fifty years of progress on voting rights, civil rights, LGBTQ rights, abortion rights, contraceptive rights, and more. Last year in March, DeSantis endorsed a piece of legislation known as the “don’t say gay” bill. This law prohibits public school educators from teaching students about sexual orientation or gender identity until they reach the third grade.[3] Democrats and liberal groups in Michigan also blasted DeSantis in advance of his visit, noting his support for abortion legislation already passed by the Florida Senate that would ban abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, with that ban extended to 15 weeks in cases of rape or incest or to save the life of the mother.[4]

While DeSantis did not touch on any plans to run for the White House, Republican polling has him as one of two front-runners for the GOP nomination should he elect to do so.[5] The other is former President Donald Trump, who has led DeSantis by double digits in polls conducted before and after his arraignment and business record falsification charges in New York.[6] Newsom gave his views on DeSantis’s aspirations for higher office, saying the Florida governor is going to get “rolled” by Trump in the contest to be the Republican nominee for president.[7]

Newsom’s visit to Florida is part of a national tour to speak out against red state policies.[8] 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.[9] He transferred $10 million to a political action committee aimed at strengthening Democratic backing in traditionally Republican-dominated areas last week.[9] This campaign and PAC are considered part of what some believe to be Newsome’s potential campaign to be the Democratic presidential nominee in 2024.[8]

The ongoing rivalry between Newsom and DeSantis highlights the stark political differences between California and Florida. Newsom is a Democrat who has championed progressive policies such as universal healthcare, climate change action, and criminal justice reform.[10] DeSantis is a Republican who has pushed for conservative policies such as restrictions on abortion and critical race theory, as well as a focus on “academic freedom” and “truth” in Florida’s public institutions of higher learning. As both governors position themselves for higher office, their clash of ideologies is likely to continue to be a major theme in the upcoming election cycle.

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

1. “Gavin Newsom goes to Florida: What California’s governor saw, in the mind of Jack Ohman | Opinion” Sacramento Bee, 6 Apr. 2023,

2. “California Politics: What to make of Newsom’s romp through the South” Los Angeles Times, 6 Apr. 2023,

3. “Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis avoids Trump and White House ambitions in Midland speech” Detroit Free Press, 6 Apr. 2023,

4. “In Michigan, DeSantis describes his enemies: The ‘legacy’ media and the ‘woke’ left” Michigan Advance, 7 Apr. 2023,

5. “DeSantis gives college talk: ‘Best defense is a good offense'” Colorado Springs Gazette, 7 Apr. 2023,

6. “DeSantis brings war on ‘woke’ to Michigan, teases run against Trump” Bridge Michigan, 6 Apr. 2023,

7. “Newsom makes surprise visit to Florida, unloads on DeSantis” SFGATE, 5 Apr. 2023,

8. “Gavin Newsom makes surprise stop at Florida college to attack DeSantis: ‘Crawling out of my skin for you'” Fox News, 6 Apr. 2023,

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

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

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