With his reelection against a little-known GOP state senator more or less assured, California Gov. Gavin Newsom waded deeper into the politics of far-away Florida with his Thursday announcement of a $100,000 donation to the Democrat running against Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis.
The donation to Charlie Crist, a former Republican governor of Florida now running for his old job as a Democrat, follow’s Newsom’s July 4 weekend ad buy in the Sunshine State in which he criticized DeSantis, a rising GOP star and potential 2024 presidential candidate in a race Newsom is rumored to be eyeing.
“For a governor to be taking his money and parking it in someone else’s race is unusual,” said political analyst Bill Whalen, a Hoover Institution fellow who worked in former Gov. Pete Wilson’s administration and consulted for former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and former Los Angeles Mayor Richard J. Riordan.
“Time to make Ron DeSantis a one-term governor,” Newsom said on Twitter of his potential presidential rival, announcing “I’m pledging $100k right now” to Crist. “Who will join me in helping Charlie become the next Governor of Florida?”
Newsom’s campaign did not immediately respond to questions about the donation.
Newsom has said he’s not running for president and that Vice President Kamala Harris should be President Joe Biden’s successor as the Democratic Party’s nominee. But polls have shown both Biden and Harris to be unpopular, even among Democrats, and Newsom often is mentioned as an alternative should Biden and Harris bow out.
Crist tweeted a thank you to Newsom for his “generosity and support.”
DeSantis hasn’t commented on Newsom’s donation to his reelection rival on Twitter. But his campaign spokesperson, Christina Pushaw, dismissed the threat from Newsom.
“Who needs opposition research when your opponents are like this,” Pushaw tweeted Thursday.
Whalen said governors typically help their party’s other candidates by hosting fundraisers or traveling across the country to join them in campaign appearances. But he said it will be telling to see if Newsom travels to Florida, Georgia, Texas and other states where Democrats are trying to unseat Republican governors.
If the races are close, Whalen said, those candidates may not want to be linked to Newsom and California, where far-left policies and the state’s high taxes, home and gas prices, rampant homelessness and other problems could potentially alienate undecided voters.
“For Democrats in other states, this is complicated lining up with this guy,” Whalen said.