Florida’s Gov. DeSantis Hits Back at Gov. Newsom Over Comments About Freedom, Pointing Out Books Banned in California

Toby Hazlewood

Taking issue with Newsom's view of freedom

With midterm elections over, and Governor's Ron DeSantis of Florida and Gavin Newsom reelected to their respective offices, November 27 and 28 saw the two governors reigniting their personal feud, with each taking a dig at the other about the relative freedom in their respective states.

Newsom had posted on Twitter on November 27 that the "GOP version of freedom" included the banning of books.

It was an apparent reference to the so-called "Don't say gay" act that has been adopted into Florida law and prohibits the discussion of sexuality and related topics in Grades K through 3 as well as removing certain books from the shelves of school libraries that address such topics.

Books banned in California too

In response to Newsom's tweet, Governor DeSantis' press secretary - Bryan Griffin - posted a number of pieces of evidence, demonstrating that books have been banned in some California schools (including the classic ' To Kill a Mockingbird' by Harper Lee).

The post from the DeSantis team was intended apparently to highlight some of the hypocrisy in Newsom's attack. Whether it achieved that, or simply served to reignite the feud between the two governors remains to be seen.

The ongoing feud between DeSantis and Newsom

There has been an ongoing feud between Republican DeSantis and Newsom, the Democrat from California that has played out over much of this year.

In April, DeSantis angered Newsom by describing San Francisco and the lawlessness being witnessed in the city as a "dumpster fire".

In return, Newsom paid $105,000 to run a series of TV adverts in Florida during prime-time slots on July 4th, in which he pointed out to Floridians that their freedom was under attack by Governor DeSantis and the state's leadership.

Newsom encouraged Floridians to move to California, "where we still believe in freedom", singularly ignoring emerging trends that showed a large number of Californians had actually moved to Florida in recent years rather than the other way around.

Newsom later claimed that he was motivated to run the adverts due to DeSantis having threatened to fine the Special Olympics organization with a fine if they insisted on applying vaccine mandates. DeSantis meanwhile, chose to ignore the digs made by Newsom, focusing instead on the fact that Florida was attracting Californians to the state, not the other way around.

He also pointed out that in his opinion, "California treats its residents like peasants."

What next?

As midterms approached, Newsom challenged DeSantis to a debate - which the Florida Republican denied. While there was no real reason for such a debate, it highlighted the likelihood that each of the two governors may well have longer term political ambitions outside of their state.

DeSantis in particular has been hotly-rumored to be considering a run for the White House in 2024 - much to Donald Trump's annoyance. Newsom too could well be considering mounting a presidential campaign by seeking attention outside of his state. His recent post tackling the notion of freedom in GOP-led states seems to be the latest example of this. Whether DeSantis or Newsom will eventually build a political campaign outside of their home states remains to be seen.

Do you think that Newsom and DeSantis and their respective offices should be entering into nation-wide political matters, or should they be focusing instead on governing their own states? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.

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