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Politics & Policy

Gavin Newsom pounces on Trump indictment with PAC fundraising

Gov. Gavin Newsom removes his mask before speaking during a press conference in Oakland on Dec. 22, 2021. (Jane Tyska/Digital First Media/East Bay Times via Getty Images)

Just minutes after news of Donald Trump’s historic indictment spread, California Gov. Gavin Newsom seized on the moment Thursday by sending out donation requests to “fight” other likely Republican nominees in next year’s presidential race.

Newsom, who is widely rumored to be considering an eventual run for president, sent out a text blast Thursday afternoon asking for donations to a new political action committee (PAC) called Campaign for Democracy. 

Notably, the message did not say Newsom is running for president, nor did it mention Trump. Instead, it suggested the governor intends to target “statehouses, local communities and electoral battlegrounds.” Newsom specifically took aim at Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, saying he intends to “take the fight” to the Republican governors. 

“All across the country rights are being rolled back in real-time by Republicans,” Newsom’s text message says. “They cry ‘freedom’ but work overtime to dismantle our democracy to protect their power to dictate the choices people are allowed to make.”

He added, “I am going to flip that narrative on its head.”

Trump's indictment was unprecedented, as no former U.S. president has ever been charged with a crime. While some observers have speculated that Trump will be able to frame it as politically motivated, others believe that it will likely hurt his re-election bid rather than rally his base.

Newsom, the 55-year-old former mayor of San Francisco, has redirected millions of unspent dollars raised to fight his 2021 recall election into ads targeting Republican governors and legislators last year. Many interpreted those ads as a signal that the Newsom—who was easily re-elected last year—created the ads to build a larger national reputation ahead of a presidential run.

Politico reported that Newsom poured $10 million into the new PAC to fund ads and political operations for the 2024 elections, and a report by the Chronicle said that Newsom and his family will take part in a “listening tour” of red states this week and next.

Josh Koehn can be reached at josh@sfstandard.com