Ron DeSantis Goes on the Offensive After Gov. Newsom’s Florida Advert – “California Treats Its Residents Like Peasants”

Toby Hazlewood

"In Florida... we were lifting people up" says DeSantis
Governor Newsom's TV AdvertTwitter of GavinNewsom

The bitter feud between Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida and Governor Gavin Newsom of California has escalated in recent weeks - mainly due to the TV adverts that Newsom paid $105,000 to run in Florida on July 4.

In those adverts, Newsom chose to assert that "in Florida, freedom is under attack" thanks to the actions of Governor DeSantis and the state's Republican leadership. He invited Floridians to migrate across the country to California "where we still believe in freedom".

220,890 Americans moved to Florida in 2021, many leaving Democrat-led states such as California in search of more favorable taxation and better career opportunities. California reported a net-reduction of around 100,000 people in 2021 as citizens moved away.

A predictably partisan response

His adverts drew a mixed response, but mainly skepticism and confusion amongst those loyal to Governor DeSantis, who are happy with life in Florida.

On July 8, at a press conference Governor Ron DeSantis finally chose to respond to the adverts:

"Everyone wants to talk about me and Florida!"

He continued, taking a shot at Newsom and raising the relative-desirability of Florida and California:

"I was born and raised in this state - and until the last few years, I rarely, if ever saw a California license plate in the state of Florida. You now see a lot of them! I can tell you if you go to California you won't be seeing very many Florida license plates."

These comments from the governor of Florida were representative of other remarks from others in the state.

An anonymous staffer to a Florida Assemblywoman relayed their response to Newsom's video in an article from July 4:

“When I showed it to the Assemblywoman, she just laughed at it, said it reminded her of an SNL parody ad."

Other Democrats were supportive

In the aftermath of the adverts running, Governor Phil Murphy of New Jersey appeared on CNN to say that he "likes" what Newsom did, and chose to use the opportunity to appeal to Floridians who might want to move to his state instead.

It has fueled rumors that were already circulating, that Newsom's intention was actually to build his profile as a prospective Democratic candidate for the 2024 presidential election.

DeSantis on the offensive

In his remarks on July 8, Governor DeSantis didn't miss the opportunity to take a swipe at Governor Newsom - focusing in on the difference between their respective handling of the global pandemic and curtailment of freedoms.

Referring to lockdowns and stay-at-home orders, DeSantis had this to say:

“As he was locking down his citizens, he would then go and have these extravagant dinners at the French Laundry to basically rub his citizens’ noses in the fact that he was treating them like peasants."

He contrasted this to his handling of the pandemic:

“In Florida, we weren’t locking them down, we were lifting our people up.”

DeSantis' comments may provoke further responses from Newsom or that may be the end of it. However, as both governors are rumored to be looking ahead to the 2024 presidential election, both Californians and Floridians may end up hearing a lot more from both of them!

Do you feel that Governor Newsom is starting to focus upon the presidential election or do you think he's still most concerned about his role as Governor of California? Let me know in the comments section below.

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