Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-CA) has won three elections in 5 years and is already going after Ron DeSantis as if he were Newsom's opponent in 2024. But privately, Newsom has told Joe Biden, Jill Biden, Chief-of-Staff Ron Klain, and everyone else in the White House down to the deputy assistant janitor that he won't challenge Biden for the Democratic nomination in 2024. He said he will wait his turn.
On Election Night, the freshly reelected young governor of one megastate was calling out the freshly reelected young governor of another megastate at the other end of the country. He talked about how California was the freedom state, not a state of book and abortion bans where they fly migrants to an island somewhere. He also called Biden that very night to make clear that he would not challenge him in 2024.
Announcing that he would not take on Biden actually means something. Previous governors of California had other ideas. In 1976, then-governor of California Ronald Reagan challenged then-president Jerry Ford. This probably contributed to Ford's loss to Jimmy Carter. In 1980, then-governor Jerry Brown learned nothing from Reagan's challenge. He challenged Carter and Carter went on to lose. So Biden can sleep soundly knowing that the telegenic young governor is not going to challenge him.
Partisanship is much stronger now than it was in 1976 or 1980. So when an up-and-coming politician challenges the party leader, the rank-and-file may become pretty upset. The only possibly exception is when the leader is perceived as so weak that the challenger is seen as the better bet. This situation could arise if DeSantis challenges Trump.
Newsom has said that if Biden declines to run, he probably will wait until 2028. But if Newsom declines to run in 2024 and some other Democrat is elected president in 2024, 2028 won't be available for Newsom. Then he will have to wait for 2032, when he will have long been out of office. We don't put much stock in his statement that 2024 is off the table in the event Biden decides to retire.
DeSantis isn't the only Republican Newsom is going after. Another is would-be speaker Kevin McCarthy, also a resident of California. Newsom calls McCarthy's district the murder capital of California and sends out taunts like: "What are you doing about it, Kevin?" (V)