PORTER: Why Newsom Versus DeSantis Is The 2024 Matchup We Need 

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Bill Porter Contributor
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Take a break from worrying about the absurd presidential election choice that looms over us between two geriatric candidates — Joe Biden, who proposes to finish term two at 86, and Donald Trump, who would leave office at 82. We need to envision a contest that makes more sense.

I commend to you the Gavin Newsom vs. Ron DeSantis ballot. It is the election template we need in 2024 to determine the fate of the republic. Newsom/DeSantis presents us with unobstructed, stark ideological and political alternatives. What could be a better test case to determine the type of leadership Americans really want?

The matchup removes the negatives of the dominant personas, along with the age/cognition issue and the swampy fog of legal dramas, derangement syndrome, family corruption, pending verdicts, etc. Election 2024 becomes simplistic in a way we need now: Blue/Red, East/West, Left/Right, Progressive/Conservative . . . in a word, binary. 

Such a contest, once resolved, would tell us everything we need to know about whatever shared desires we have for the future of the U.S. This new ballot disrupts. It could excise some of the rancor and hysteria of partisanship. It can bring us to a referendum on — remember this word? — governing.

Two states, two track records

To begin with, we are talking about two governors of large, influential states: California (the country’s most populous with 39 million people) and Florida (3rd most populous with 22.2 million). Both were first elected in 2018 and easily reelected in 2022. These parallel track records can help us decide which candidate is best qualified to govern all 50 states. What a novel thought! (Bonus Question: What did Joe Biden ever accomplish in 36 years in the Senate?)

These two states represent 18.3 percent of the U.S. population between them. A candidate’s leadership style in a regional crisis like a hurricane or raging wildfires actually becomes germane to the electoral conversation. You can’t just show up two weeks later and shake a few hands.

With our proposed matchup, we have ample evidence to consider. Their records are unabashedly out there. Both have long wanted a place on the national stage. Neither can be accused of a soft touch. 

DeSantis can explain to the left why his forays into education policy (e.g., eliminating Critical Race Theory) and his war on “woke” politics (e.g. challenging environmental, social and governance policies) make sense for all of America.

Newsom can answer for his state’s tax burden and the condition of its cities (he was twice elected mayor of San Francisco, after all). He can then explain why hostility to business has motivated California corporations — like Tesla, Chevron and Charles Schwab — to migrate to red states.

They can enlighten us on their disparate approaches to COVID mandates. DeSantis boasts that he saved livelihoods from job-killing lockdowns and vaccine mandates. Newsom quickly signed COVID-19 executive orders, mandating first-in-the-nation school masking and staff vaccinations. Seems there’s a difference here.

The two can square off on their radically different policy stances on a topic like immigration. Newsom, from his first day, proudly pronounced California “a sanctuary for all who seek it.” This has unfolded not only for immigrants but for abortion migrants and parents of transgender-identifying youth. DeSantis, on the other hand, flew migrants to the blue northern enclave of Martha’s Vineyard, an approach derided by Dems as a “political stunt”.

The tale of the tape

There are other intriguing possibilities in this title bout. Their résumés actually tell us something about how they lead. Just a sec … how many times was Joe Biden elected senator? Oh yeah, seven. Every six years from 1972 to 2008. We recall that he represented Delaware, population one million (only 5 states are smaller in population).

Neither is old. Newsom will be 58 on election day, DeSantis, 46. Fair enough. We needn’t fear them falling asleep at the podium. Their wives bring strategic advantages. Casey DeSantis is a former news anchor; Jennifer Siebel Newsom, a Hollywood actress.

They are family men. DeSantis has three children under the age of eight. Newsom has four, presumably photogenic, offspring. After all he is in California. A first family in the White House with little kids sounds good … no more lurking Hunter with his gangster friends and no more cocaine in the vestibule. Big plus for America!

Both can get ready for a general election quickly. In California, 7.7 million people voted for Newsom in 2022, netting him 61.9 percent of the vote. He survived a 2021 recall by 23 points. He was lieutenant governor for eight years. He comes with giant name recognition in a blue state with a vast pool of big donors. DeSantis is already running, so he has a small advantage. He has name recognition, an organization and early money.

Newsom can instantly eclipse Kamala Harris, who never faced strong Republican opposition until 2020 as Biden’s running mate. Her election to the Senate in 2016 lacked a Republican challenger. The two top Democrat candidates faced off. She was well connected, so she won. You may recall that she is not good at garnering support in primaries.

There are some divergences, each of which brings strong appeal to either candidate’s base. For example, DeSantis was a Navy man and spent time in Afghanistan. He served as a reserve officer until 2019. On the West Coast, Newsom was in business founding wineries and retail outlets. He entered local politics in San Francisco, then was mayor of the city for seven years.

DeSantis is a Yaley and Harvard Law grad, which he claims only made him more conservative. Newsom has a B.S. in political science from Santa Clara University. Both played college baseball. (Newsom, pitcher; DeSantis, outfield and big hitter). The metaphor is intriguing. 

DeSantis served in Congress three terms before running for governor. There, he signed a 2013 “No Climate Tax Pledge.” Newsom has banned sales of gasoline-powered vehicles in his state by 2035.

Consider a new ballot

There you have some highlights of the new options in a realigned political universe. There’s talk of a debate. Could be fun! Incidentally, 1876 was the only time in U.S. history that two sitting governors squared off for the presidency. That election – Rutherford B. Hayes of Ohio vs. Samuel J. Tilden of New York – produced an electoral deadlock that was ultimately decided in the Senate, igniting fireworks rivaling Bush v. Gore in 2000.

If Biden/Trump repeats, it will be all about them. With these governor replacements, we can have a real debate about how we want to be governed—California-style or Florida-style. 

Their politics are not significantly different from those of the current party frontrunners. (Newsom said recently: “I’m all in for President Biden”). But they are different people and can bring a refreshing change of discourse — a conversation about the future.

Bill Porter, a freelance writer, is a former business developer and proposal writer for the IT industry.

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Daily Caller.