Newsletter: New evidence of the odd political symbiosis between Trump and Newsom

Essential Politics

They are two chief executives with a motivated political base, a seemingly unending supply of criticisms and a love of social media.

Other political stories may be more important, but few are as entertaining as the rivalry — or perhaps it’s more an odd political symbiosis — between President Trump and Gov. Gavin Newsom.


The two went at it in recent days over Trump’s national emergency on illegal immigration, an action Newsom criticized during a last-minute decision to travel on Thursday to the border community of San Ysidro.


His hosts told the governor there’s no crisis in their San Diego enclave. “We allow politicians with political agendas to advance the debate,” Newsom chimed in. He also promised additional state help to refugees who cross the U.S.-Mexico border seeking asylum.

On Saturday — soon after a CNN story on Newsom’s visit hit the airwaves, Trump took to Twitter. “I hope the grandstanding Governor of California is able to spend his very highly taxed citizens money on asylum holds more efficiently than money has been spent on the so-called Fast Train,” the president wrote, getting that extra jab in on the state’s high-speed rail project. (And you can bet that topic is one we’re going keep hearing about throughout the year.)

Trump’s tweet came one week to the day he told an audience of conservative activists that Newsom had phoned recently to praise him as “a great president and one of the smartest people I’ve ever met.” California’s governor has yet to comment, though you have to believe he won’t remember anything remotely like that.

In short, the two men offer each other nothing but political upside. Trump will continue to find plenty in liberal-leaning California to criticize and Newsom has devoted a sizable portion of his first-year agenda on enhancing the state’s role as a counterweight to the president’s policies. And Newsom, so far, is much more willing to mix it up than was former Gov. Jerry Brown.


Both men seem to know exactly what they’re doing. And in singling out Newsom, Trump raises the California Democrat’s stature that much more.

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-- Trump is poised to request at least an additional $8.6 billion in funding to build more sections of a wall along the border, setting up a fresh battle with Congress.


-- If Border Patrol agents don’t change how they watch the barrier, said some Arizona ranchers who have backed Trump’s plans, it won’t work.

-- Confirmation that the U.S. government has compiled dossiers on activists, journalists and lawyers interacting with the migrant caravan in Mexico has reignited a clash between civil liberties and government authority.

-- Amid a crowd of senators running for president, governors are now entering the field, arguing they are doers not talkers, executives with real experience.

-- A big chunk of the 2020 Democratic field made Texas an unlikely early-state stop Saturday and pushed back on big tech in front of young, social-media savvy crowds.


-- In 1960, John F. Kennedy launched his presidential campaign about two months before the New Hampshire primary. Now candidates campaign years in advance. What changed?


Few California politicians have been able to more consistently control their public persona during the Trump era than state Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra. After all, he’s the guy who can rightly claim to have sued the president’s administration almost four-dozen times since 2017. Democrats of all stripes have applauded Becerra’s stance.

But now, the Sacramento native and former L.A. congressman is finding the sledding particularly rough among some liberal groups when it comes to the power of police officers and law enforcement unions. The attorney general has sounded cautious notes in siding with a Republican district attorney in declining criminal charges against officers who shot and killed Stephon Clark last year.


And he’s hesitated on enforcing the state’s new open records law on police personnel files — even threatening action against journalists who he insists were wrongly sent a copy of some internal documents.

“A Democratic attorney general, in particular, is kind of torn between two worlds — the law enforcement entities and officials with which he or she must work and build credibility with, and Democratic constituencies that are highly suspicious of, if not downright hostile to, law enforcement,” said Garry South, a longtime Democratic political consultant.


-- In a trend that stems from lax enforcement of the cap on vacation accrual, more and more state workers are able to retire with massive payouts for unused vacation and other leave. Last year, the state paid its employees nearly $300 million for banked time off.


-- California privacy advocates and industry lobbyists are gearing up for a new legislative battle over a historic law that allows users to opt out of having their personal data collected and sold.

-- California state legislators accepted $810,000 in gifts and overseas trips in 2018, according to new economic disclosure documents.

-- A political consulting firm billed Orange County’s toll roads agency for 1,300 hours of reading “emails of news.”

-- Whether living in cars, on couches or outside, homelessness is a persistent problem across California’s 114 community college campuses — a symptom of a larger crisis of affordability for the state’s most vulnerable higher education students.


-- The once-a-decade process of political redistricting will offer a unique opportunity for the dwindling ranks of California Republicans to be on equal footing with Democrats.


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