Republicans who are looking ahead to 2024 say Democrats shouldn’t hang their hopes on California Gov. Gavin Newsom if President Biden decides not to run again, predicting the GOP would "mop the floor" with him because of his failed record in the Golden State.
Newsom, who was first elected to serve as governor in 2018 and survived a recall election in 2021, was re-elected to a second term as California's governor in the state's 2022 midterm election. But while Newsom survived in his own state, GOP insiders and strategists say none of that will matter if he mounts a nationwide campaign.
Mark Larson, a political analyst and conservative radio host based in California, told Fox News Digital he believes "Democrats will push Newsom to run," but said Newsom wouldn't stand a chance.
"The problem is we in California know him all too well. That said, he just got re-elected, and he bucked the recall. But I think any of the leading Republicans, especially Ron DeSantis … would mop the floor with his nicely manicured hair," Larson said.
Conservative radio talk show host Larry Elder, who easily topped the field of replacement candidates in a losing recall campaign against Newsom, told Fox Newsom is "more radical than Bernie Sanders" and said Republicans would welcome running against him.
"Go ahead Democrats, make Republicans’ day! [Nominate] this San Francisco loon," Elder said.
Newsom's record includes a "series of tax hikes" in California and "expanded taxpayer health care for illegal aliens." Elder, who hosts a daily TV show for Epoch Times, said those problems would be too big to overcome.
"Under Newsom, California is losing population for the first time in the state’s 170-year history," Elder said. "And the state faces a $24 billion projected deficit."
Civil rights attorney and Fox News contributor Leo Terrell offered a similar assessment, saying he believes Republicans would "love" to run against Newsom in 2024 because he would be a "horrible candidate" and has been a "horrific governor."
"We've got crime, we have homelessness, we have high inflation, we have high gas prices and now we have a deficit in our budget," said Terrell, who is based in Los Angeles. "From a historical note, no Democrat from California has ever become president. I think the Republicans would love to run against Gavin Newsom and simply point to California as a failed state."
Amy Tarkanian, a Republican strategist who formerly served as the Nevada state GOP chairwoman, said Republicans would have little trouble putting up a better candidate.
"I believe the Republicans have a much deeper bench to choose from, which would hopefully be more of a threat to the Democrats than vice versa," she said. "Many of those who have lived in California for generations have fled due to his mismanagement of the state."
In a November interview with Politico, Newsom downplayed rumors that he would enter the 2024 presidential race and pose a challenge to President Biden, who has yet to announce whether he's running.
"I’ve told everyone in the White House, from the chief of staff to the first lady," Newsom said, adding his message is "I’m all in, count me in" on Biden's re-election bid.
Democratic strategists who are keeping an eye on the 2024 race believe Biden will seek re-election and that Newsom will abide by his commitment. But some Democrats think Newsom would seek the White House if Biden stepped aside and believe he would be popular with Democrats.
"If Biden were not to run, Gavin Newsom is definitely somebody that Democrats like," said Leslie Marshall, a Democratic strategist and Fox News contributor. She said some voters might see Newsom as "too far left," but she also said Republicans might be "more concerned than they're letting on" about his possible run.
Carly Cooperman, CEO and partner of Schoen Cooperman Research and adviser to several Democratic candidates, said Newsom's national profile would help, not hurt.
"Newsom began his first term as governor with sharp attacks on the Trump administration and pivoted to denouncing ‘red-state politicians’ now that a Democrat is president, continuing to contrast their leadership with his and making the argument that California is the nation's model for a functioning democracy," Cooperman said.