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DeSantis, Newsom debate: 2 young governors with opposite approaches to governance

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(The Center Square) – The governors of two of the most populous U.S. states – one red, one blue – will debate Thursday night in what many have described as an epic showdown between two young leaders who’ve implemented nearly diametrically opposite policies.

Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis will debate on conservative host Sean Hannity’s program on Fox News at 9 p.m. eastern time. The debate will last 90 minutes with each governor having an equal opportunity to answer questions.

Fox News has described the debate as “DeSantis vs. Newsom: The Great Red vs. Blue State Debate.” Hannity will moderate.

The debate will be broadcast live from Alpharetta, Georgia, with no live audience.

Fox News said the goal of the debate is to “examine the vastly different approaches the two governors have and offer insights into their political philosophies as well as ambitions for the nation.” Debate topics include issues impacting their states, and the country, like crime, inflation, the border crisis and others.

The conflict between the governors began last July when Newsom invited Floridians to move to California after the Florida Legislature passed a parental rights and education bill. At the time, Newsom had survived a recall election and was running for reelection. His first campaign ad at the time was directed at DeSantis, not his Republican opponent in California.

Since then, Newsom and DeSantis have traded barbs over a range of policy differences as the governors of the first and third most populous states, respectively. Their opposite approaches to governance range from DeSantis implementing the least restrictive COVID-era lockdown policies, to Newsom implementing the most restrictive ones, resulting in multiple lawsuits, including threatening to put pastors in prison. Newsom’s lockdown lawsuits ended up at the U.S. Supreme Court, where justices chastised his policies as unconstitutional.

As DeSantis banned mask and vaccine mandates and reopened schools for in person instruction, Newsom mandated virtual learning and kept schools closed, resulting in lawsuits with several parental rights groups.

Meanwhile, Florida’s education outcomes improved, California’s declined. Florida ranks third in education outcomes according to U.S. News’ “Education Rankings,” compared to California’s 20th ranking.

As more people left California in state history under Newsom, the state legislature doubled down on increasing taxation and California continued to see residents and businesses exit.

Florida doubled down on tax cuts to offset inflation costs and reported the highest inbound migration in state history over the same time period.

Florida continues to rival Texas as a top destination for businesses and residents exiting blue states. California’s at the top of the list of the blue state exodus; its former residents and businesses cite high taxes and expansive restrictions as their reasons for leaving.

And while California has among the highest taxes in the nation and high unemployment, Florida is known for its low taxes and has reported the lowest unemployment rate in the nation for years.

Florida also ranks second best for businesses by Chief Executive Magazine compared to California’s last place ranking. Florida ranks second-freest state according to a Cato Institute ranking compared to California’s ranking of 48.

In response to Newsom claiming Florida wasn’t a “free” state, DeSantis said Newsom treated California residents like peasants, and Newsom’s in-laws donated money to DeSantis’ campaign.

By last September, Newsom challenged DeSantis to a debate. This June he agreed to debate DeSantis with Hannity moderating it; by August, DeSantis agreed.

Both young politicians and fathers of young families, the two governors have been viewed by political strategists as the future of their respective parties. Voters have expressed concerns about another Trump/Biden matchup and about candidates running in or near their 80s.

Even though former President Donald Trump holds a sizeable lead over DeSantis in the polls and Newsom has brushed off claims that he’s running a shadow campaign, pundits view the pair as a formidable matchup. Some Democrats have suggested that Newsom is a frontrunner for the 2028 presidential race or is an alternative to President Joe Biden if he’s unable to run or backs out of his 2024 reelection bid.

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