Feud Escalates Between the Governors of California and Florida After Gov. Newsom Challenges Gov. DeSantis to a TV Debate

Toby Hazlewood

DeSantis jokes: Could California even keep the lights on long enough?

Governor Gavin NewsomTwitter of GavinNewsom

The long-standing feud between Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida and Governor Gavin Newsom of California took another turn recently, after Newsom challenged DeSantis to a televised debate in advance of mid-term elections, on September 16.

Newsom - who seems keen on such a debate - was picking up on an idea proposed by TV news anchor, Dan Rather when he broached the idea with Governor DeSantis:

Newsom issued the invitation via Twitter, after Newsom tackled DeSantis, saying:

"...clearly you're struggling, distracted, and busy playing politics with people’s lives."

The governor of California appeared to be making reference to DeSantis having recently approved the relocation of 50 illegal immigrants from Florida to Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts.

DeSantis was equally cutting in his own response to the invitation. Speaking on Fox News, DeSantis raised the question over whether California could even keep the lights on to host such a debate, referring to recent electricity blackouts in the state.

DeSantis avoiding debates?

Joking aside, Newsom may have also been trying to strike a nerve with DeSantis who has avoided committing to a statewide televised debate with the Democratic challenger in Florida's gubernatorial election - Charlie Crist.

The incumbent Republican Governor DeSantis has agreed to one debate with Crist, but won't commit to the only debate that would have been broadcast live across the Sunshine State. Could it be that he's fearful of debating live and in-person? Or could there be another explanation - that perhaps he's trying to campaign in such a way that avoids confrontation and mud-slinging?

The latter explanation seems unlikely, but it could be possible if a recent DeSantis campaign advert is an indicator of anything - it focuses only on his achievements as governor and doesn't mention his competitors at all.

The feud between Newsom and DeSantis continues

The ongoing disagreement and war-of-words between Republican DeSantis and Democrat Newsom has been raging for most of 2022. It seems to have begun after DeSantis made reference to San Francisco, California as a "dumpster fire", which had deteriorated in large part due to Newsom's leadership.

The feud escalated after Newsom ran a TV advert in Florida on July 4, in which he warned Floridians that 'Freedom is under attack in Florida'. He further invited citizens of Florida to move to California "where we still believe in freedom" - something that Governor DeSantis mocked openly when responding to the adverts some days later, stating that:

"California treats its residents like peasants."

Trying to boost their political profiles?

It subsequently emerged that Newsom had been motivated to run the adverts after Ron DeSantis threatened to fine the special olympics organization if it insisted on vaccine mandates for competing athletes. Many have since speculated however that Newsom was mainly motivated by gaining publicity and profile within the wider Democratic party across the United States - something that appeared to be achieved whether intentionally or not.

It could seem at this point as though the invitation from Newsom for DeSantis to debate him live on television is yet another means of building profile, particularly as both governors are suspected of having long-term aspirations of running for the White House in the 2024 election.

Whether DeSantis will rise to the bait, remains to be seen.

Do you think that Governors DeSantis and Newsom should be more focused on the business or running their own states? Would a debate between the two be useful and interesting as a means of testing their suitability for future presidential campaigns? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.

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