Thursday night brings an unusual Fox News showdown featuring two governors with significant national profiles: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) and California Governor Gavin Newsom (D). This face-off between a presidential candidate and a top national surrogate for an incumbent president holds importance as it is likely to be a clash of conservative and progressive visions. Furthermore, it could serve as a glimpse into potential future political contests.
Ron DeSantis, aged 45, faces a critical juncture in his campaign as he seeks the GOP nomination. He aims to break the momentum of former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley in the primary, which is less than two months away. This debate offers DeSantis a platform to articulate his conservative ideals without the distractions of a crowded debate stage with fellow GOP rivals. It also provides a chance for him to demonstrate how he would engage with a Democratic opponent in a potential November debate, with Gavin Newsom representing the Biden re-election campaign.
Gavin Newsom, aged 56, who was also elected as governor in 2018, remains committed to supporting President Biden’s re-election campaign and has dismissed rumors of his own 2024 presidential run. Seen as a possible future presidential contender, this debate offers Newsom the opportunity to present his policy perspectives and enhance his national profile before a broad audience.
Looking ahead, regardless of the outcome of the upcoming presidential election, the ambitions of these two high-profile state leaders are likely to extend beyond 2024. The potential for a matchup in 2028 between DeSantis and Newsom adds significance to this current showdown, with both governors aiming to position themselves strategically in the political landscape.
David McCuan, a political science professor at Sonoma State, noted the stakes involved and expects Newsom to seek a moderate label when addressing the Fox News audience, recognizing the long-term implications of their political careers.