We’re a year and a month from the 2024 presidential election. That may sound like it’s far away but in terms of a presidential campaign it’s getting late. Nominating petitions to get on state ballots are just a few months away. The first caucuses and primaries aren’t far behind.
Nobody has to tell this to Republican presidential candidates. But it’s a different story for Democrats.
Joe Biden’s presumptive nomination to be the Democratic candidate for president is starting to elicit some panic in the party leadership. Well, not the elected party leadership as much as the donor class and influential activists who will play a huge role in who will win if Biden is forced to step aside.
What if Biden doesn’t want to go? The alternative is for a bloody, messy primary season with Biden still probably coming out on top. That’s why with Biden’s decline now becoming noticeable, we might expect some kind of intervention to get Biden to step aside.
Making Vice President Kamala Harris president as well as the putative presidential nominee would solve the problem nicely — in Biden’s eyes. But there’s at least one Democrat who would not accept Harris as the nominee and is already surreptitiously mounting a shadow campaign for the presidency.
California Governor Gavin Newsom continues to deny he has any interest in running for president, insisting that Joe Biden is going to be the Democratic Party’s nominee for president. But some of his recent moves have raised a few eyebrows among his radical progressive brethren and caused inside the beltway tongues to start wagging.
He vetoed bills that would have legalized some psychedelic drugs and allowed marijuana cafes as they have in some European countries. He also vetoed a pro-union bill to provide one week of severance pay to laid-off grocery store workers for every year of work. Most shockingly to the unions, he vetoed a bill that would have given striking workers unemployment benefits.
Remember, this is California, home of radical chic legislation and where nothing is off limits. So what gives, Gavin?
Progressives were understandably disappointed, but that should only hearten the rest of us. “While a lot of these bills may not fly in the Deep South, they’re unremarkable in progressive California, and were on Newsom’s desk in the first place because the state Legislature put them there—ostensibly carrying out the will of California voters,” lamented CNN columnist Jill Filipovic. Yes, legislators put them there, but elected governors have the final say regarding the “will of the people.” That’s how our system works.
Newsom mostly vetoed bills that would have provided immense pushback for little gain. I have nothing against legalizing psychedelics, but critics far outnumbered beneficiaries. Newsom did sign several noxious measures. He OK’d a bill making it harder for landlords to evict troublesome tenants. He required companies to disclose greenhouse gas emissions. He banned certain food additives. That’s par for the course in progressive California.
Newsom’s past legislative record is rich with fodder for the GOP opposition. But in response, he can always say, “Yes, but I vetoed these other, even more radical bills. That makes me a moderate, right?”
Behind the global headlines of inflation and war that have dogged Biden this past year and overshadowed his own successful infrastructure and job-creating record, Newsom has moved unencumbered to grab the climate spotlight.
He recently signed two first-in-the-nation climate disclosure and risk bills that vault California ahead of national standards at a time when the federal government still hasn’t defined its own rules. He was asked to speak to world leaders at the United Nations during Climate Week in New York last month by secretary general Antonio Guterres (Biden wasn’t).
It’s not just making a more moderate record that shows Newsom doing everything except making an announcement about running for president. Newsom is in Israel this weekend to show support to “those impacted by the horrific terrorist attacks and offering California’s support, he tweeted on X. And then it’s on to China to talk about climate change with Chinese leaders.
In Israel, he met with Israeli President Isaac Herzog.
“I thank you Governor of California [Gavin Newsom] for your solidarity visit to Israel today. We will never forget the true friends of the State of Israel – those who chose to stand with us in our difficult times,” President Herzog said in Hebrew on X, formerly Twitter.
— יצחק הרצוג Isaac Herzog (@Isaac_Herzog) October 20, 2023
Burnishing his foreign policy chops would seem to be a prerequisite to running for president, don’t you think?