By BETHANY BLANKLEY
THE CENTER SQUARE CONTRIBUTOR
(The Center Square) — A new ad campaign launched Monday in California mocking an ad California Gov. Gavin Newsom launched July 4 in which he attacked Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and invited Floridians to move to “the free state of California.”
In Gov. Newsom’s first re-election campaign ad in California, he targeted Floridians, saying, “Freedom is under attack in your state.”
Republicans were “banning books, making it harder to vote, restricting speech in classrooms, even criminalizing women and doctors,” Gov. Newsom’s ad said.
The ad points to news headlines about Florida laws banning public schools from teaching sexual orientation and gender identity in K-3 grades, banning abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy, among others.
In response, VOTE THE R, a Florida-based Super PAC, launched a 30-second ad mocking Gov. Newsom last month. After raising enough money to run the ad in California, the PAC launched its $25,000 digital ad campaign Monday.
Its two 30 and 60-second spots, “California freedom: skip a meal or two or 10 to pay for gas,” have no affiliation with Florida Gov. DeSantis’s re-election campaign.
Both governors are running for re-election and are considered by political pundits as rivals in a potential 2024 presidential election matchup.
The shorter ad depicts Gov. Newsom speaking with a voiceover saying, “I urge you to join us in California, where we’ll take the money you earn and give it to people who don’t work.
“Visit San Francisco, where you can walk through human feces. If you’re lucky, you might step on a syringe.
“Check out Los Angeles, where gas is so expensive your kids only need to skip a meal, or two, or 10, to afford it.”
The ads are running to “expose” Gov. Newsom’s “ridiculous hypocrisy while giving its despondent citizens hope,” the PAC’s founder, Trey Radel, said.
He told The Center Square, “Gavin Newsom is the worst kind of liberal. He’s a hypocrite who locks down his state, while he fine-dines. He advocates for and implements insanely expensive gas prices, hurting the middle class and poor, while he flies private. He forces you to mask up, while he hangs with his buddies at the Super Bowl, eating, drinking and even snapping pictures – unmasked – like an entitled pre-teen.”
Gov. Newsom apologized in November 2020 after being criticized for eating at the French Laundry, an expensive Napa Valley restaurant, while ordering Californians to stay at home or be fined. He was also criticized for sending his children to private schools to attend in-person instruction while he banned public schools from providing in-person instruction for nearly two years.
Mr. Radel’s ad is targeting state lawmakers reconvening in Sacramento Monday.
VOTE THE R wants Californians who “haven’t yet fled to Arizona, Utah, Idaho, Montana, Texas, or Florida, to know that freedom-loving Americans stand with them,” Mr. Radel said.
In response, to Gov. Newsom’s ad, Gov. DeSantis said he’s treated Californians like peasants, and in Florida, “we weren’t locking [residents] down, we were lifting our people up.”
Gov. Newsom’s campaign hasn’t responded to The Center Square’s request for comment.
During Gov. Newsom’s first term in office, California lost more residents to migration in recorded U.S. history, lost a congressional seat, grew one of the highest unemployment rates in the U.S., and increased its already high tax burden on individuals and businesses who continue to leave citing high taxes and cost of living, among other policies.
During Gov. DeSantis’ first term, Florida gained a congressional seat, became the third-most populous state, implemented a budget with record tax breaks, has the highest surplus in state history of $21.8 billion, leads the U.S. in economic growth and has one of the lowest unemployment rates.