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Gavin Newsom won’t save the Democrats Reality will catch up with America's Great White Hope


July 19, 2022   4 mins

Burdened with a decomposing President and a clearly overmatched Vice President, the Democrats are on the hunt for a saviour. For many in the party, Gavin Newsom, the 54-year-old perfectly coiffed Governor of California, seems like the perfect solution. No doubt, given his recent trolling of Florida’s Republican frontrunner Ron DeSantis, he feels the same.

But Newsom’s ascendency faces some severe challenges. First, to get nominated, he must not only depose Biden, but also see off Vice President Kamala Harris. And she has three things Newsom lacks: she’s a woman, she’s black, and she has Asian Indian ancestry. Newsom, on the other hand, is white, was born into a well-connected San Francisco family, and is married to a film-maker and scion of a very wealthy Bay Area family.

Perhaps more importantly, things have not been particularly good for the minority Californians he was voted in to look after. In the Golden State, African-Americans and Hispanics do far worse economically than their counterparts elsewhere in the country. Black residents, on a cost-of-living basis, make about as much as they do in Mississippi, and far less than in states such as Texas, Florida, or Arizona.

Class may prove an even more glaring weakness. Newsom sees his state as a model, claiming California is “the envy of the world” and the great bastion of social justice. “Unlike the Washington plutocracy,” he boasts, “California isn’t satisfied serving a powerful few on one side of the velvet rope.” Yet he is the favourite son of what The Los Angeles Times described as “a coterie of San Francisco’s wealthiest families”, including the founders of the Gap clothing chain, the Pritzker’s and the Getty Family, who essentially adopted him, financed his business ventures, allegedly paid for his first lavish wedding, and helped launch his political career.

Meanwhile, Newsom’s green and progressive pronouncements contrasted starkly with his passion for the good life. He has long lived in luxury, first in his native Marin, and now in Sacramento. This caused Newsom some embarrassment during the height of Covid when he was caught partying in ways that violated his own pandemic orders at the ultra-expensive, ultra-chic French Laundry in Napa and more recently on a lavish family vacation.

When it comes to actual policymaking, Newsom is not much better. He backs an ineffective education system, controlled by his teacher union allies, that leaves almost three out of five California high schoolers unprepared for either college or a career. Meanwhile, his children attend one of the capital’s regions trendiest private schools. He is, in effect, an embodiment of the increasing feudal nature of modern California, which stands among the least egalitarian states in the nation and suffers the overall highest poverty rate in the country, according to the US Census Bureau. Inequality here now surpasses that of Mexico, and is closer to that of the Central American banana republics of Guatemala and Honduras than it is to developed countries such as Canada and Norway. California also suffers the widest gap between middle and upper-middle-income earners of any state, while driving up housing costs and narrowing opportunities for working-class people in blue-collar industries.

So how has Newsom gotten to the point of Presidential viability? Much of the answer lies with California’s own bizarre politics, ruled by a one-party state dominated by public employees, tech oligarchs and green non-profits. These groups finance his campaigns and act as shock troops, along with the largely compliant media. There is no serious challenger to his re-election in November. State Senator Brian Dahle, a fellow GOP aspirant, is an obscure northeast California dairy farmer who failed to secure 20% of the primary vote.

And yet Californians are not particularly enthusiastic about Newsom — his approval ratings stand at roughly 50%, while 60% are pessimistic about the state’s direction. He doesn’t even rank among the nation’s most popular Governors, but stands at about average. At least half of residents, particularly in the state’s interior, see California going in the wrong direction.

Californians are not totally inert or stoned to care; they are discouraged. In Los Angeles, 10% plan to move out this year. Between 2014 and 2020, net domestic emigration from California grew from 46,000 to 242,000, according to US Census Bureau estimates. Yet Newsom’s answer to these concerns is not to create new opportunities for middle or working-class California but to expand what Marx called “the proletarian alms bag”. Rather than lower taxes or give incentives to business, Newsom simply expands the welfare state.

Given the bumper revenues of last year, and the pathetic state of his opposition, Newsom’s gambit will likely pay off this year. But whether it can hold until the next election in 2024 remains less certain. The current tech bust and potential real estate decline could force the current surplus — which is in large part down to pandemic transfers from the federal government — over a “fiscal cliff” by next year, notes the state’s legislative analyst’s office. In other words, Newsom’s penchant to bribe voters may end up as successful as that of Juan Perón.

Against a poorly financed unknown from a party associated with the widely detested Donald Trump, Newsom will likely cruise to victory in November. As the anointed Great White Hope, he may seem like the man to save the Democrats from their own follies and the legacy of the current disaster in the White House. He just has to pray that his own policy failures don’t catch up with him first.


Joel Kotkin is the Hobbs Presidential Fellow in Urban Futures at Chapman University and author, most recently, of The Coming of Neo-Feudalism: A Warning to the Global Middle Class (Encounter)

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Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
1 year ago

Apparently some Californians and now moving to Mexico, so dysfunctional has CA become.

Amos Sullivan
Amos Sullivan
1 year ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Tech giants in CA slowing hiring, laying off and people think Newsom could be president?

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
1 year ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Ruddy Norah!

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
1 year ago

“Perhaps more importantly, things have not been particularly good for the minority Californians he was voted in to look after.” He was voted in to “look after” minorities? What, like a Great White Savior? The man’s job is to run his state efficiently, responsibly, and intelligently – things he is demonstrably incapable of – for all citizens of his state, not just the popular victim classes.
Instead . . .
City streets are public toilets for drug addicts squatting in sidewalk tents. Criminals are free to thieve openly while those committing violent assault are not prosecuted. Fires rage and energy blackouts roll because the executive is incapable of management. Recalls have been mounted to get rid of him and members of his woeful team. Yeah, sounds like the perfect replacement for the Man of Dementia occasionally wandering around in the White House: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=42wbI7LxRns

Michael Askew
Michael Askew
1 year ago

Your second paragraph is spot on. The mystery is why an article about Gavin Newsom mentioned none of them. Is Joel Kotkin unaware of these issues?

Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
1 year ago

That Democrats even consider Newsom is a testament to how much control and influence coastal liberal strongholds have over the party. Newsom’s vulnerabilities are obvious to anyone and he’s the sort who could only succeed in a one party state. (Republicans have those too, btw). Moreover, California has moved so far left of the rest of America, it’s doubtful any politician from there will fare well in a national election. Harris’s unpopularity speaks to this. I don’t like her style, but I’d still prefer her over Newsom, since she at least isn’t a card carrying aristocrat like Newsom. He’s like the Democrat version of Romney, but without the bonus of having been governor of an opposition party state.

Warren T
Warren T
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Jolly

Only obvious to anyone who pays attention. Unfortunately, it appears that 75% of the electorate simply doesn’t pay attention.

Dave Tagge
Dave Tagge
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Jolly

Well said.

Electoral college math of recent presidential elections is that the deciding votes are swing voters in states such as Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Georgia. I don’t see how anyone thinks that Newsom – his bio, his policies, his overall presentation – has much appeal to those voters.

Jeff Cunningham
Jeff Cunningham
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Jolly

“…if she only had a brain.”

Warren T
Warren T
1 year ago

California is “the envy of the world”
This is only true if you happen to be obnoxiously and filthy rich. He’s the perfect candidate for today’s Democrats.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
1 year ago
Reply to  Warren T

Well San Francisco is certainly the envy of the t**d World.

Garry Marley
Garry Marley
1 year ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

I see what you did there! 😀

Jo Nielson
Jo Nielson
1 year ago
Reply to  Warren T

It ‘was’ the envy of the world. Then it wasn’t.

Douglas McNeish
Douglas McNeish
1 year ago

He could step aside for the highly intelligent debater Larry Elder, who presented himself as a candidate in the event of Newsom’s recall.

Elder is black, though he does suffer with the handicap of being cis-male. This could reveal Newsom as the true progressive he purports to be. But of course it’s all for show.

The comparison with Peron is apt. He wants the “marginalised” to be weak and needy of his generosity with taxpayer funds. Elder on the other hand is the wrong kind of black man – articulate and conservative – and therefore useless to the Democrat ruling elite. And he has been cancelled by progressives as a “white supremacist.”

Brad K
Brad K
1 year ago

When that despicable fish wrap called the L.A. Times blasted out the headline “The Black face of White Supremacy” at Elder you know the shark has been truly jumped. And no one even flinched.

Douglas McNeish
Douglas McNeish
1 year ago
Reply to  Brad K

The righteous progressives of the LA Times know that the monopoly over the needs of the underclass held by the Democrats must never be challenged, and dangerous challengers like Elder must be “unblacked” to neutralise them. (N.B. see Candace Owens as another great thinker “unblacked” for wrongthink.)

Last edited 1 year ago by Douglas McNeish
John Bassett
John Bassett
1 year ago
Reply to  Brad K

No fish should suffer the fate of being wrapped in that wretched “newspaper.”

Amos Sullivan
Amos Sullivan
1 year ago

Daily videos of the decay and debauchery of California will solve the concern about Newsom.

Terry M
Terry M
1 year ago
Reply to  Amos Sullivan

Great article.
Merely showing the streets of San Fransicko is enough to convince anyone in the 45 or so sane states that Newsom and CA are to be avoided.

Brad K
Brad K
1 year ago
Reply to  Amos Sullivan

If only that were true. Most of America is aware of the rot which pervades this once great state, but few attribute it to the Democrat policies which fuel it. The usual excuses range from income inequality (or wealth disparity) to “Trump did it!”. And always the solution is to throw yet more money at the problem.
Because moving homeless off the streets and into either rehab or jail is a violation of their civil rights, as is prosecuting violent career felons.

Michael Pecherer
Michael Pecherer
1 year ago

As a long time Californian, I can testify as to the remarkable competence of our erstwhile Governor, Gavin Newsom. Here is a list of his remarkable accomplishments:

  1. Utterly failed to deal with the monstrous homeless problem in every major city in the state. San Francisco and Oakland are both unlivable.
  2. Utterly failed to address the violent and non-violent crime issues which also plague our cities.
  3. Ignored out water problem completely. There has been absolutely no attention focused on increasing supplies, developing alternative sources like desalinization, making better use of river flows, etc. He just sits and ignores.
  4. Ignored the wildfire problem completely. Wildfires have increased over the past years because CalFire is outgunned and under equipped, there are no concerted efforts to reduce accumulated fuels, no efforts to maintain state forests intelligently, no efforts to anticipate fires by creating fire breaks in the grass lands, and no organized effort to coordinate private efforts with state efforts. He seems to hope this problem will just go away.
  5. Our highways are in terrible shape. CalTrans has a backlog of ten years of maintenance projects. Projects are not completed in a reasonable timeframe and are inevitably over budget.
  6. Utterly failed to deal with port congestion and has signed legislation that restricts owner-operators of big rigs. Ports are now tied up in labor disputes that are aggravating the supply chain problems.
  7. Signed legislation eliminating single family zoning throughout the state and providing that additional housing units can be built on any property in the state. This legislation conflicts with many other long-standing laws and guarantees lots of litigation.
  8. Signed a budget that exhausts all surpluses and eliminates any “rainy day” funds. If we have a recession of any duration, the state will go into deficit.

Finally, this paradigm of elite privilege has never made an intelligent comment in his life. He is a product of the California Democratic machine, the privilege of having been born into wealth, and the darling of a syncophantic media that pretends that all is well in what was once a well run state. I cannot imagine he could survive the scrutiny that attends a run for national office.

David Frost
David Frost
1 year ago

It’s difficult to understand… Californians seem unhappy and convinced that things are going in the wrong direction. And yet, for reasons not clear to me, they keep voting for the very things that are wrecking their state.

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
1 year ago
Reply to  David Frost

Rather like in the states of New York and Illinois.

Johnathan Galt
Johnathan Galt
1 year ago

Typical Democrat. An utter failure, they assume the only problem is that they haven’t risen high enough


Pete Daley
Pete Daley
1 year ago

He won’t save the dems, and certainly not the general citizenry. God help us if he were to find a path to the White House

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
1 year ago
Reply to  Pete Daley

Joe Biden did.

David Rice
David Rice
1 year ago
Reply to  Jerry Carroll

Did Biden really find a path to the White House or was he dropped off there after those who are really in charge carved the path for him?

Frank Strazzulla
Frank Strazzulla
1 year ago

The legions of expat Californians who fled the state due to his arrogance and nutty policies will sprint to the nearest Republican campaign office to work for his defeat if he is the nominee.

Garry Marley
Garry Marley
1 year ago

Imagine a Gavin Newsome campaign ad: “What I did for California I can do for America!” The RNC won’t have to spend any money on ads!

Vince B
Vince B
1 year ago

There is a reason why my governor is referred to as Greasy Gavin or Gruesome Newsom. The man could be a character out of central casting, so useless, so self-righteous, so self-serving. There has not been a single quality of life problem which has been improved in the years he’s been in office. Everything has gotten worse.
Middle class Californians are leaving the Golden State in droves because of the cost of housing, cost of living, traffic gridlock, property crime, homelessness, uncontrolled illegal immigration, high taxes and poor public services including some of the worst performing schools though among the most expensive.
Those moving in are the super wealthy and the super poor. We are becoming Rio with gated enclaves of elites surrounded by the immiserated.
All DeSantis will need to do is point to those figures to wipe the floor with Newsom.

0 0
0 0
1 year ago

The Republican Party is quickly drifting off to sea. And the Democrat Party is right behind them if the likes of Newsome (or Harris. Or Pritzker of Illinois) is the best that they have to offer. Neither party has served this country well, going back at least to the 60s. The two-party system has long since fallen into corruption and decrepitude. It is a relic from the 19th and 20th centuries and no longer works.
Will it take some kind of national catastrophe before we finally wake up to the fact that this country is in desperate need of a legitimate third-party?

philip kern
philip kern
1 year ago
Reply to  0 0

I think I agree but can’t imagine how that works. When you speak of doing away with the two-party system, I assume you mean at a national level, but where will candidates emerge from? The way things are set up now, you can’t get elected dog-catcher without the party’s backing in many places. How do you establish anything–finanical support, idealogical backing, and everything else–without a party structure? Replying that the two-party system needs to be broken down more locally, across the thousands of distinct elected entities that make up the US doesn’t strike me as realistic: the leviathan will always re-emerge. I read a fair bit but can’t recall any compelling discussion of this question.

burke schmollinger
burke schmollinger
1 year ago
Reply to  0 0

Third Parties are for those who can’t be bothered by the hard choices that come with actually wielding power.

Any coalition that would make a third party competitive could be used to capture either of the big parties, although moreso the GOP than the party of patronage.

Harry Dichmon
Harry Dichmon
1 year ago

One thing for sure: Jennifer Newsom is smoking hot!

Last edited 1 year ago by Harry Dichmon
burke schmollinger
burke schmollinger
1 year ago
Reply to  Harry Dichmon

The one he dumped for her and is now with Donny Jr ain’t bad either.

2024 could be “Shakespeare meets Jerry Springer!”

Nancy Reyes
Nancy Reyes
1 year ago

Whites have not been the majority in California since 2019. Hispanics outnumber Whites. The only way to view Whites as the majority is by including Hispanics. But then when you want Hispanics to be viewed as a victim group, they suddenly become “people of color.”

burke schmollinger
burke schmollinger
1 year ago
Reply to  Nancy Reyes

The fact that California rejected race-based quotas at the ballot box despite Latinos being the largest ethnic group (and Asians not far behind Plain ol’ Whiteys) is one of the most encouraging signs to come from the state recently.

Tyler Keller
Tyler Keller
1 year ago

Anti-White liberals and respectable conservatives that support massive third-world immigration and FORCED assimilation for EVERY White country and ONLY White countries say that they are anti-racist, but their policies will lead to a world with no White people i.e White Genocide. Anti-racist is just a code word for anti-White.

WilL S
WilL S
1 year ago

California, take out your own political trash, we in the rest of the US are not interested!

Gary Hemminger
Gary Hemminger
1 year ago

There is absolutely no chance any CA democrat is going to win a national election. Will not happen. Way too much progressive baggage.

Derek Bryce
Derek Bryce
1 year ago

I look at that picture and can’t help thinking ‘grinning’ Gav Newsom is ushering ol’ Joe towards the Soylent Green tanks.

George Craig
George Craig
1 year ago

Newsom may be the Great White Hope in Cali, NYC, DC and Chicago, but to the rest of the country, he appears to be a buffoonish clown who makes Dementia Joe look like a genius in comparison.
California has, by far, the lowest high school graduation rate in the country. All of those high school dropouts aren’t capable of making a living in a state that imports a big part of its high-tech work force from India and China, and has done everything in its power to chase the manufacturers that need low-skilled blue collar workers out of the state.
Meanwhile, Newsom is probably going to allow the El Diablo nuclear plant to continue operating past its planned obsolescense date. Remember, Cali approved it despite safety concerns because the land was cheap. Why was the land so cheap? It sits right next to not one but TWO major fault lines. And a moderate earthquake could turn LA into a radioactive wasteland and contaminate the ground water for half of SoCal. Which is why there have been multiple efforts to decommission it. A few years ago, a safety inspector pointed out some of the problems, and was immediately fired….It is a great Green Energy success story, after all……

daForceTrading
daForceTrading
1 year ago

Newsom may have a better chance if Kamala Harris resigned from her office as Vice President before the November midterms, and Biden nominated Newsom to replace her. “Whenever there is a vacancy in the office of the Vice President, the President shall nominate a Vice President who shall take office upon confirmation by a majority vote of both Houses of Congress.” Think 1973 when Agnew was forced to resign after of pleading no contest to a felony charge and Nixon nominated Ford who later pardoned Nixon. The question arises, will Newsom be able to capture the majority vote of both Houses of Congress? Before the mid-terms – very possible, but after the mid-terms – questionable. If confirmed, however, Biden would surely resign and Newsom as President would pardon “The Big Guy” and his son.

Last edited 1 year ago by daForceTrading
Rick Abrams
Rick Abrams
1 year ago

Newsom has no opposition in California because the GOP are bigots; they hate Gays, Mexicans, Blacks, and Jews. Like Trump they are habitual liars, denying their hatred of minorities. There are a few Jewish GOP who live in a deluded world, believing that they are accepted. They are window dressing with large check books. Due to a quirk of fate, I got to hear what the GOP Goyim really think of GOP Jews and it confirms that Jews are an unwanted necessity. Mexicans and Blacks do not suffer such delusions with a couple notable high profile exceptions.

Also, the Calif GOP addresses none of the problems which face minorities. If there is a neighborhood to be gentrified, the GOP will be there shoulder to shoulder throwing poor people onto the streets with the Dems like Garcetti. GOP judges and DEM judges were equally open to Tom Girardi’s money and would screw any poor person any time any place for no reason other than it makes them feel good. If and when California’s poor and middle class wake up, it won’t be pleasant.

Last edited 1 year ago by Rick Abrams
George K
George K
1 year ago

Wow. Conservatives are terrified of this guy.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
1 year ago

I live in California. In this age of rubbish politicians, Newsome stands out as one of the best. Of course, as he has made his way up through Democratic party politics in a very Dem State, he has acquired some baggage which will be thrown back at him if he runs for President, but this is true of almost any candidate with a political track record. I think the biggest – possibly fatal – problem he would face in a national election, would be his record on dealing with the “undocumented”. Otherwise, he is on the conservative side of the Democrats. He is a very effective public speaker and a good looking energetic fellow. He runs the state of California as well as anyone can given the craziness of the big Dem cities here.
I think his chances of getting the Democratic nomination – simply because of being a straight white male – are very poor. The Dems leadership will everywhere else first, second and third!

Frank Strazzulla
Frank Strazzulla
1 year ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

he’s horrible. Far from moderate. Signed a bill reducing sentences on child molesters of kids over the age of 12. Homeless issue and illegal issue death in a national campaign also. At the end of the day he doesn’t play well in places like Milwaukee, Detroit or Atlanta.

Michael Askew
Michael Askew
1 year ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

He runs the state of California as well as anyone can…” Really? Turning a blind eye to shoplifting and violent crime. Allowing the streets to be awash with homeless people with no sanitary facilities. On his watch more people and more businesses are leaving the “Golden Stae” than coming to it. Is this the only way?