California Gov. Gavin Newsom could be a 2024 contender. There's only one problem: Kamala Harris

Posted 10 days ago


California has given the US two presidents —Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan — and could give it a third in 2024. Vice President Kamala Harris, a former senator and state attorney general, is considered next in line for the Democratic nomination should her boss, President Joe Biden, choose not to run for a second term due to his age. But even if Biden runs again, the 2028 nomination would be Harris' to lose. But there's another state official who could add to California's tally: Gavin Newsom. The question is, will he try? Newsom, the telegenic governor of California who beat back a surprisingly boisterous recall campaign last year and is on solid ground to win re-election in 2022, would normally be a strong presidential contender. The state teems with Democratic voters and cash, and its delegate-rich primary often solidifies a frontrunner's status. The governor has always shot down questions about whether he'd run for president.

When asked for comment, his campaign provided an interview Newsom gave to a San Francisco CBS affiliate where he vowed his presidential ambitions were, "None, never." In a separate interview, Newsom said running for the White House has "100 percent never been on my radar." Then again, it's common for high-profile politicians to promise they aren't running, until one day, they do.

Newsom has made moves towards growing his national profile, recently garnering headlines for proposing a ban on assault weapons modeled after Texas' controversial abortion law, which effectively outlawed the procedure in the state by letting private citizens sue anyone who aids or abets an abortion that takes place after a fetal heartbeat is detected. Newsom has also sought to portray his state as a leader in handling the coronavirus pandemic, though the recall effort against him was born from Republicans' frustrations with the state's restrictions and lockdowns. At 54 years old, he has years of career potential ahead of him after the governorship. But with Harris as the nominee to beat should Biden step aside, Newsom would have to contend with another superstar from his own state, splitting party loyalties and forcing California voters to choose between two familiar hometown names.

"Kamala Harris being vice president not only complicates Gavin Newsom's path, but the path of everybody if Biden doesn't run in 2024," said Bruce Cain, a professor of political science at Stanford University in California. "It's even a greater complication for Gavin given that his base and her base is California. I think it's fair to say that it has to be weighing on any calculation he might have about jumping into a 2024 race.""They occupy not only the same home base and same kind of mentors," Cain said. "The reality is they are more similar than they are dissimilar. And I think that's a problem for him, particularly when she has more visibility."Like Harris, Newsom is perceived nationally and at home as a liberal politician. He granted marriage licenses to gay c... (Read more)