Flurry of Activity by Governor Newsom Could Foreshadow Presidential Run

Should Mr. Newsom choose to wait until 2028 to seek the White House, it is almost guaranteed he will face a bevy of other candidates.

Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group via AP, file
Governor Newsom at Palo Alto January 26, 2022. Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group via AP, file

A whirlwind of activity for Governor Newsom — including the unexpected veto of a bill pertaining to transgender children — could signal that a stealth primary challenge to President Biden, whose political standing seems to weaken by the hour, might be in the works. 

Late on Friday, the Coast governor announced that he had vetoed Assembly Bill 957, which would have required judges during custody battles to consider “a parent’s affirmation of the child’s gender identity or gender expression.”

Mr. Newsom wrote in a message to his legislature that the narrow consideration of a child’s identity as transgender could be weaponized by conservative governors who may attempt to use a “single characteristic” to decide the fate of custody battles. 

“I urge caution when the Executive and Legislative branches of state government attempt to dictate — in prescriptive terms that single out one characteristic — legal standards for the Judicial branch to apply,” the governor wrote. “Other-minded elected officials, in California and other states, could very well use this strategy to diminish the civil rights of vulnerable communities.”

A state senator from San Francisco who has taken the lead in making California a “sanctuary state” for unaccompanied transgender minors, Scott Wiener, called Mr. Newsom’s veto “a tragedy” on the social media platform X. 

“These kids are living in fear, with right wing politicians working to out them, deny them health care, ban them from sports and restrooms and erase their humanity,” Mr. Wiener wrote. “The level of right wing misinformation about this bill was astounding.”

Mr. Wiener added that “All the bill did was ensure that in custody disputes, a court would take into account the kid’s gender identity and whether parents would be supportive of the kid as opposed to tormenting the kid.”

The California LGBTQ Legislative Caucus also released a statement condemning the veto. “Divorces are difficult enough — adding the fear of being placed with a parent that does not respect their authentic self is simply cruel,” the group said. 

The next day, however, Mr. Newsom signed a bill that allows transgender children in foster care to avoid foster homes that they feel are hostile to their gender identity. He also signed legislation that mandates that all California teachers must take LGBT “cultural competency” courses. 

“California is proud to have some of the most robust laws in the nation when it comes to protecting and supporting our LGBTQ+ community, and we’re committed to the ongoing work to create safer, more inclusive spaces for all Californians,” the governor said in a statement

The governor has consistently denied he will run against the president, but new polling may drive donors and powerful Democrats to his doorstep, urging him to run. New polling suggests Mr. Biden is an incredibly weak standard-bearer for the Democratic party. 

A poll, released Sunday by the Washington Post and ABC News, suggests that President Trump is leading Mr. Biden by ten points in a general election rematch, 52–42. The poll also shows that the vast majority of Democrats want to see someone other than the president lead their party in 2024, though those same voters do not know around whom they may coalesce as no candidate has entered the race.

Mr. Newsom will be deployed to this week’s Republican presidential primary debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California as a surrogate for Mr. Biden, Axios reported. The chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Jamie Harrison, and Mr. Biden’s 2024 campaign manager will join the governor in counterprogramming the GOP debate. 

Should Mr. Newsom choose to pass on 2024 and wait until 2028 to seek the White House, it is almost guaranteed he will face a bevy of candidates who have more impressive policy wins for Democrats than the Gold Coast governor. 

Governor Whitmer, a woman who improbably won her second term by double-digits and flipped control of her state legislature to blue from red, has ridden a wave of positive press coverage in recent months.

Her victory last year came on the same night Michigan voters codified abortion rights in their constitution — a measure she strongly backed. Her legislative accomplishments in just eight months are numerous, including ending Michigan’s status as a “right to work” state and banning conversion therapy. 

Governor Pritzker of Illinois — a man who has won friends in the Biden orbit for his deep pockets — moved to ban so-called assault weapons this year to the joy of many Democrats, and lambasted the firearms industry following a mass shooting at a Chicago suburb, winning national media attention.

The billionaire heir to the Hyatt hotel fortune could bankroll a primary and a general election campaign using his wallet alone. 

The new Maryland governor, Wes Moore, an Army combat veteran, Rhodes scholar, and political outsider, has already been profiled by national media outlets and even had Oprah Winfrey introduce him at his inauguration earlier this year.

The New York Sun

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