Go to Iowa Anyway, Gavin

Joe Mathews
Connecting California Columnist and Editor, Zócalo Public Square, Fellow at the Center for Social Cohesion at Arizona State University and co-author of California Crackup: How Reform Broke the Golden State and How We Can Fix It (UC Press, 2010)

“I was going to Iowa in a couple of days. I just bought my damn ticket. I want a reimbursement!” – Gov. Gavin Newsom

Kamala Harris’ departure from the presidential race is probably a victory for California, if she returns to full-time work in the U.S. Senate defending her state from the war that the Trump administration has declared on it.

But her quitting leaves Gov. Gavin Newsom hanging. Indeed, less than 24 hours before the announcement that Harris was leaving the race, Newsom had indicated he would go to Iowa Dec. 14-15 to campaign for her.

That trip is almost certainly on ice. But here’s a suggestion, governor. Go anyway.

And you don’t have to endorse another candidate to do it. You should go to represent our state, California.

California is such a big character in the race that it’s getting more attention than some actual candidates. Trump and the Republicans are literally running against California, and filling Americans’ minds with distortions and lies about us.

Governor, you should go to correct the record.

That doesn’t mean just singing our praises. It means being honest about all our greatness and all our many faults, and showing how deeply connected we are to the rest of the country. It’s especially important to combat the narrative in Iowa, which as a swing state will be deluged with anti-Californian nonsense next year. Since California doesn’t have the war room it needs to defend itself in the 2020 elections, Newsom will be the next best thing.

The governor also should try to win allies there and across the Midwest. Are there ways California state government can collaborate with, or help out, Midwesterners? Showcase those.

Media and pundits will dismiss such a trip as about your future presidential ambitions. That’s OK—those ambitions will draw attention. But use the attention—and the airplane ticket you already bought—to go talk to Iowans.

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