TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida's GOP governor wrapped up a two-day campaign fundraising stop in California on Tuesday. It comes as he continues to trade blows with Gavin Newsom, the Golden State's Democratic governor. The diametrically opposed pair sparring over policy and Florida's latest round of migrant flights to Sacramento.
DeSantis' 2024 political operation was the latest to take a swing, launching a new attack ad this week criticizing Newsom for "a great American exodus from states governed by leftist politicians." The ad noted that California has lost population for three years in a row as states like Florida have gained.
Newsom recently rejected that criticism in an interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity.
"Eighteen states had declines in population, California's was .3%," Newsom told Hannity. "You didn't bring up any of the red states. It's an interesting fact — an interesting, omitted fact, and I don't see it on here. Per capita, more Floridians moved to California than Californians moving to Florida."
The back and forth is a new escalation in a war of words between the two, a slugfest that's been around since at least last July when Newsom ran his own ads slamming DeSantis in Florida. They targeted a slate of new GOP laws, including the 15-week abortion ban, and told Floridians "freedom is under attack in your state."
A lot has happened since. More recently, Newsom challenged DeSantis to a debate, which the governor dismissed last week after signing Florida's $116.5 billion budget.
"Stop pussyfooting around," DeSantis said in a jab at Newsom. "Are you going to put your hat in the ring and challenge Joe?"
On Fox News, Newsom also condemned DeSantis for the latest round of migrant relocation flights. That's after Florida officials dropped off more than 30 in Sacramento without warning this month. Newsom has called for an investigation into potential kidnapping.
"I sat down with these migrants. I talked to every single one of them," Newsom said. "They were lied to. They were misled. They were told they had jobs. They were told they would get certain court dates changed. They were dropped off. They knocked on the door and they left.”
While the two spar, details of the latest flights remain few. The California attorney general has demanded more info from Florida officials but to date the state's information is limited. Florida's Division of Emergency Management recently provided a video of the transport with migrants shown signing waivers. Also, a heavily redacted contract with the vendor, Vertol Systems. DEM defended the censorship by saying in a statement:
"If a Respondent considers any portion of the documents, data or records submitted in its response to this RFP to be confidential, proprietary, trade secret, or otherwise not subject to disclosure pursuant to chapter 119, Florida Statutes, the Florida Constitution or other authority, the Respondent must mark the document as "Confidential" and simultaneously provide the Division with a separate redacted copy of its Proposal and briefly describe in writing the grounds for claiming exemption from the public records law, including the specific statutory citation for such exemption. This language was in the Request for Proposals."
We do know Florida's GOP lawmakers recently renewed the $12 million relocation program. Members vowed to use "every penny" to deter illegal immigration in Florida, and it seems to continue stoking the flames between Newsom and DeSantis for the foreseeable future.
Newsom is thought by many to be a future contender for president within the Democratic Party. He's said he'll back President Joe Biden in 2024 but keep an eye on him for 2028. DeSantis too, if he fails to nab the GOP nomination this time around.