by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-CA) has been one of the country’s most visible Democratic candidates-in-waiting.
Though he has denied running against President Joe Biden for the party’s 2024 nomination, his actions over the past several months seem to suggest that he has at least flirted with the idea.
“Gavin Newsom is definitely trying to raise his profile nationally, whether for 2028 or if something came up sooner,” Democratic strategist David McLaughlin told the Washington Examiner.
The charismatic governor has worked hard to elevate his standing. He’s traveled to at least six Republican-led states, assembled a staff of political advisers, created a political action committee to dole out millions of dollars for Democratic causes, and managed to goad Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL), a 2024 Republican presidential candidate, into a debate that will be aired later this week on Fox News.
Even though there have been mounting concerns that Biden’s poll numbers are too low and that his age (he turned 81 this month) may be a factor with voters, Newsom and other would-be challengers have largely fallen in line. Biden is still facing long-shot challenges from Rep. Dean Phillips (D-MN) and author Marianne Williamson.
“The train has left the station,” Newsom said. “We’re all in. Stop talking. He’s not going anywhere. It’s time for all of us to get on the train and buck up.”
Despite his denials, several political insiders said it’s not entirely out of the realm of possibility that Democrats turn to Newsom in 2024.
“The Democratic Party’s nervousness about Biden has certainly increased, and with him polling behind Donald Trump in many states, his low approval ratings, young voters being especially disenchanted with Biden, all of that has heightened interest among a lot of party supporters in an alternative,” Eric Schickler, professor of political science at University of California, Berkeley and co-director of its institute of governmental studies, said.