On Monday, Republican presidential candidate and Florida governor Ron DeSantis held a fundraiser near the home of California governor and vocal critic Gavin Newsom, just weeks after sending two planeloads of migrants to the state capital.
Mr. DeSantis did not make any kind of public remark at the closed-to-the-press fund-raiser, which was sponsored by a Republican real estate developer at a suburban country club in Sacramento and cost $3,300 per person to attend. However, the setting emphasised the back-and-forth between the two governors, which has been building for over a year as they increasingly exploit one other as political foils.
The state of Florida was responsible for the sudden movement of some three dozen Latin American asylum applicants from Texas to Sacramento, according to an admission made by Florida authorities this month. Mr. DeSantis has spent the better part of the last several months relocating migrants, mostly from Texas, to cities and towns that are governed by the Democratic Party. He claims this is to help spread out the effects of the Biden administration’s immigration policy.
Mr. Newsom called the actions “kidnapping” and called them cruel political manoeuvres, pointing out that California also has a border with Mexico. The state attorney general in California has opened an inquiry.
Mr. Newsom made an unexpected visit on the conservative network Fox News in the days after the migrant flights, when he strongly defended California’s policies and criticised those of governors like Mr. DeSantis. Fox News anchor Sean Hannity said that he had assured the governor of Florida that he was “all in — count on it” for a discussion on the topics.
Despite Mr. Newsom’s claims that he has “subzero” interest in running for president and his enthusiastic support for President Biden’s re-election, many see him as a viable candidate for the presidency in 2024.
While Mr. DeSantis has been widely seen as Donald J. Trump’s chief competitor for the Republican nomination in 2024, national surveys have regularly showed Mr. DeSantis running some 30 points behind Mr. Trump, even as the former president faces a federal indictment.
DeSantis’s campaign, true to style, announced his presence in California on Monday with a tweet declaring that “the debate is already settled” and a new campaign commercial depicting California as afflicted by population decline, homelessness, and covered with “needles and faeces.”
Despite the fact that over 60% of voters in the county backed President Biden in 2020, the little parking lot at the Del Paso Country Club was packed with the governor’s hardline supporters.
Mr. DeSantis was scheduled to appear at a second rally at the Harris Ranch in Coalinga, Fresno County, on the same day. This trip was just one of several that potential presidential candidates have made to California as interest in the 2024 election heats up.
At a marshland preserve in Palo Alto on Monday, President Biden and Mr. Newsom announced almost $600 million of government support for climate resiliency. Mr. Biden was also slated to make an appearance at two other private fund-raisers in support of his re-election bid.
With more people and a bigger economy than the majority of nations, California is a prominent target for political fundraising for politicians of both major parties.
Although President Biden won California by a wide margin in 2020, Mr. Trump won the state by a larger margin of votes than any other state thanks to the support of over six million Californians.