By Emily Hoeven
Gov. Gavin Newsom is poised to burnish his national profile this week on a trip to Washington, D.C., where he’s set to accept an award recognizing California’s financial investments in public education and discuss such issues as gun safety, abortion, climate change and homelessness with Biden administration officials and other high-profile lawmakers.
One person the governor won’t be meeting with, however: President Joe Biden himself, who is on a trip to the Middle East. Newsom’s office told the Associated Press the conflicting schedules were coincidental.
Although Newsom has affirmed his support for Biden amid polling that shows a majority of Democratic voters want their party to back another nominee, some of his recent actions — including calling on the Democratic Party to be more aggressive in standing up to Republicans and airing campaign ads in Florida — have fueled rumors that he might be eyeing a presidential run of his own.
And previews of comments the governor is scheduled to give today — when he’ll accept the Frank Newman Award for State Innovation from the Education Commission of the States — suggest he’s preparing to forge ahead with his strategy of bashing red states.
- Newsom told the Los Angeles Times the award gives him an “opportunity to compare and contrast” California’s education system with those in Republican-led states, which feature “more suppression of free speech, more cultural war, and I think you compare that to preschool for all, after-school for all, summer school for all, opportunity for free meals regardless of income. To me, that’s real choice and that’s real reform compared to pure performative politics and an extension of the cultural wars.”
- Republicans weren’t impressed. “Exactly which education accomplishment is Gavin Newsom being recognized for?” tweeted Jessica Millan Patterson, chairperson of the California Republican Party. “Is it keeping CA schools closed longer than any other state? Is it our abysmal test scores showing a third or less of students are at grade level in math & science? Asking for 6 million CA students…”
Before Newsom left for Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, he signed into law several gun control bills, including a high-profile measure to create a “standard of conduct” for the gun industry and allow California residents, the state attorney general and local governments to sue manufacturers, retailers and distributors if they don’t take adequate steps to limit the harm caused by their products.
- Newsom: “Our kids, families and communities deserve streets free of gun violence and gun makers must be held accountable for their role in this crisis. Nearly every industry is held liable when people are hurt or killed by their products — guns should be no different.”
The law — set to go into effect July 1, 2023 — will almost certainly be hit with legal challenges following last month’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling expanding gun rights, as will another bill awaiting Newsom’s signature. Modeled on the logic of Texas’ abortion ban, it would allow private Californians to sue anyone who manufactures, distributes or sells certain illegal firearms.
- Sam Paredes, executive director of Gun Owners of California, told the Los Angeles Times: “None of this stuff, none of the bills that are going to the governor’s desk that he is going to sign pass that (constitutional) test, from our opinion. And I think we will find out in court if our opinion is correct.”
Newsom is set to return to California on Friday. Meanwhile, Democratic Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins of San Diego is serving as acting governor, as Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis is in Greece visiting her family, according to her office.