Newsom and DeSantis clash over California population loss during heated debate

During the debate, California Governor Gavin Newsom argued more Floridians have come to the Golden State.

Brianna Willis Image
Friday, December 1, 2023

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The long-awaited match-up of California Governor Gavin Newsom and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis aired Thursday night in a debate on the Fox News channel.

The first topic was how many Californians are leaving the state, with data from the U.S. Census citing 750,000 people leaving in the last two years.

"You have to almost try to mess California up, and that's what Gavin Newsom has done since he's been governor. He's the first governor to ever lose population," said DeSantis.

Action News spoke with the local owner of Jugo Salad & Juice Bar, Lewis Everk.

He says he's moving his business outside of California to Nashville due to the lower costs in Tennessee.

"The inflation is out of control, and then California is raising their minimum wage over the past five years so aggressively that it's really hard to keep up with that," said Everk.

During the debate, Newsom argued more Floridians have come to the Golden State.

"I think it's an interesting campaign strategy for Ron DeSantis to be bashing a state of 40 million Americans when California simply has no peers," said Newsom.

The two also went head to head about abortion, Newsom calling out DeSantis for what he calls extreme abortion laws and DeSantis calling out Newsom for funding it.

Both took the opportunity to pull out the punching bag.

"He's just throwing stuff out to see what sticks against the wall. This is a slick, slippery politician whose state is failing, people are leaving his state, and he's trying to run interference for his failures," said DeSantis.

"But there's one thing, in closing, that we have in common, is that neither of us will be the nominee for our party in 2024," said Newsom.

Fresno State political science professor Thomas Holyoke says he can't recall a time this has happened in recent history, but both have been pushing the idea.

"The way they are just going to go at each other, almost just for the sheer entertainment value of it, in a sense, this is gonna be reality television," said Holyoke.

Adding, he believes both are going to benefit from the national stage.

"DeSantis needs the bump right now, Newsom is looking to raise his national profile more long term. I think Newsom probably is really looking to position himself as a national democrat, probably for 2028, but you never know, maybe for next year too," said Holyoke.

The Republican presidential primary kicks off on January 15th with the Iowa caucuses.

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