X Close

Is Gavin Newsom poised to challenge Joe Biden?

Who's in charge here? Credit: Getty

October 4, 2023 - 11:45am

On Sunday evening California Governor Gavin Newsom announced his appointment of EMILY’s List President Laphonza Butler as California’s new United States Senator. She is expected to be sworn in to the Senate on Wednesday by Vice President Kamala Harris.

This appointment transpired within a remarkably brief period, less than 72 hours following the passing of the 90-year-old Dianne Feinstein, the oldest sitting US Senator who served more than five decades in public office. Feinstein’s failing health has been a debated issue for several years, prompting calls for her resignation. Governor Newsom, known for his efforts to “check boxes” to align with progressive party principles, had previously pledged to appoint an African American woman to the Senate in the event of Feinstein’s departure.

Newsom’s choice may carry significant political implications, particularly if he wishes to challenge Joe Biden in 2024. Recently, the Democratic Party altered its primary schedule to open with South Carolina ahead of Ohio as a means to prioritise the participation of African Americans and other ethnic minority groups. Newsom’s appointment could enhance his appeal to this cohort, making it a politically savvy move.

That Butler is actually a resident of Maryland rather than the state of California appears not to have deterred Newsom. The Governor’s office has clarified that she owns property in California and will change her voter registration accordingly, but Newsom’s critics have questioned why he was not able to find a qualified black woman who already resided there. 

More concerning, however, is Butler’s lack of prior political experience, raising questions about her competence and ability to serve effectively. Without ever holding an elected office, many have questioned why Newsom would promote her to one of the highest and most powerful offices in the nation.

But what Butler may lack legislatively she makes up for in the boxes she checks (black, woman, lesbian) and as a national fundraising powerhouse with strong public sector union ties. 

Butler became the first black woman to lead EMILY’s List, a federal Political Action Committee that bundles and gives contributions to pro-choice, female Democratic candidates for office. The organisation name is an acronym for “Early Money Is Like Yeast”, since its endorsement and fundraising capacity can make or break a campaign. EMILY’s List has reportedly raised $850 million since its founding, and has helped Democratic women win competitive elections across the country by getting female voters to turn out at the polls.

While there may be concerns about whether Butler is the right representative for the constituents of California, Newsom appears to have made this selection with an eye on advancing his own political ambitions. Nominating an out of state resident to represent California in the US Senate is a politically risky move, one that may increase cynicism and alienate voters, especially if Butler decides to run as an incumbent for the open Senate seat in 2024. Biden may think that he’s safe from any Democratic challengers, but Newsom’s recent machinations suggest that trouble may lie ahead.

Join the discussion


Join like minded readers that support our journalism by becoming a paid subscriber


To join the discussion in the comments, become a paid subscriber.

Join like minded readers that support our journalism, read unlimited articles and enjoy other subscriber-only benefits.

Subscribe
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

17 Comments
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Right-Wing Hippie
Right-Wing Hippie
9 months ago

But what Butler may lack legislatively she makes up for in the boxes she checks (black, woman, lesbian) and as a national fundraising powerhouse with strong public sector union ties.
If this makes her a good pick for Newsom to advance his national political aspirations, then it bodes extremely ill for the Republic. God forbid a Senator should, you know, actually have some talent or skill legislatively; far more important that she meet some arbitrary demographic quotas.

Andrew F
Andrew F
9 months ago

But it is the only game in town.
In uk we had completely unqualified idiot given top job in John Lewis on the basis of being black women.
Now, when she run once great retail business into ground, she still shamelessly hangs on for another year.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
9 months ago

Newsom is the American version of Justin Trudeau.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
9 months ago

The US is doomed if this joker becomes president.

Barry Dank
Barry Dank
9 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

The joker has already been President, you know the one with the orange hair.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
9 months ago

God help America if this man becomes President. He’ll probably make it compulsory for women to have pen1ses.

Peter Johnson
Peter Johnson
9 months ago

They must have had to look very hard to find someone worse than Joe Biden – but they pulled it off. Way to go Democrats!

Carmel Shortall
Carmel Shortall
9 months ago

With his slicked back android-hair under a cap in the pic above, he looks like Justin Trudeau. Is there a factory somewhere making these bozos? I think we should be told!

Catherine Conroy
Catherine Conroy
9 months ago

Not keen on Newsom but he still makes a better candidate than Joe Biden.

Richard Ross
Richard Ross
9 months ago

He does indeed make a better candidate. That’s half of why he’s dangerous. At least with Biden running, nearly any Republican put forward is a shoo-in.

George Venning
George Venning
9 months ago

“Biden may think that he’s safe from any Democratic challengers, but Newsom’s recent machinations suggest that trouble may lie ahead.” Good grief, Newsom isn’t going to challenge Biden. This isn’t a hostile takeover. He’s the insurance policy in case Biden’s troubles become so difficult to conceal that he needs to be benched.

The Democrats can surely read the polls. They know that Biden is a millstone and that, in the debates, Trump will do to him what he did to Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio et al. But, if Biden goes then Harris would become the heir presumptive. And, since she’s (ahem) substantially less popular than Biden, the challenge is to find a way to line up someone like Newsom without having an actual primary, in which RFK Jnr, or Marianne Williamson get in front of too many cameras.

Caty Gonzales
Caty Gonzales
9 months ago

It does seem he is positioning himself, and why not? Biden is politically weak and physically and mentally ailing. Moving aside Harris is more difficult but not impossible as she is so unpopular nationally.
To those of us on the right, he seems ridiculous, but he is slick. If it is Trump vs Newsom, I think it would be a Democrat landslide.
I am looking forward to November’s DeSantis vs Newsom debate. Ah, it would be nice if they were the two candidates.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
9 months ago
Reply to  Caty Gonzales

In California, Newsom never has to defend his record. His support for reparations, abortions up to birth, the most restrictive Covid policies in the US, gender affirming care for children, will be questioned much more intently.

b blimbax
b blimbax
9 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

I can see ads, Newsom in the foreground, images of homeless encampments and filthy sidewalks behind him, and a voiceover:

“What Gavin Newsom did to San Francisco as mayor, he’s doing to California as governor, and what he’s doing to California he’ll do to America.”

Caty Gonzales
Caty Gonzales
9 months ago
Reply to  b blimbax

I don’t disagree, but in a debate against Trump all this guy has to do is stand next to him and smile to peel off independents. Not to mention the slew of ‘abortion ban’ adverts. If the nominee isn’t Trump, it will be a load of January 6th/threat to Democracy/supports Trump.
I wouldn’t write off Newsom at all. If I was a Democrat either he or Whitmer would be my on my wishlist

Carmel Shortall
Carmel Shortall
9 months ago
Reply to  Caty Gonzales

“stand next to him and smile to peel off independents.”

Before I got to the last word of this sentence, my mind had sustituted “his human skin to reveal the reptile beneath” for the word “independents”. Am having a lie down now…

Caty Gonzales
Caty Gonzales
9 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

I agree with you and dislike his policies. The fact is, once he is the candidate, the generally Democrat friendly media (outside of Fox etc) will march in lockstep behind him. He is already moving to the center on some of these issues. Not enough for people who are on the right, but probably enough for independents – especially if they are up against Trump.