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Twitter scoff: DeSantis allies fire back after Gov. Newsom slams Florida’s lost ‘freedom’

·4 min read
Gavin Newsom for Governor 2022

Supporters of Gov. Ron DeSantis, considered a likely candidate for the Republican nomination for president in 2024, didn’t take kindly to criticism flung at Florida by California Gov. Gavin Newsom in an ad posted on Twitter and broadcast on Fox News.

“#1 U-Haul Salesman of 2021 increasingly desperate to communicate with Californians who fled his left-lib dystopia for Florida,” tweeted Christina Pushaw, DeSantis’ press secretary. She was referring to a 2022 report by the moving company that said it ran out of inventory for customers leaving California.

“Sorry, you aren’t getting those U-Hauls back,” she added.

The ad by Newsom, who is expected to coast to reelection in November, addresses Floridians thusly: “Freedom, it’s under attack in your state. Republican leaders, they’re banning books, making it harder to vote, restricting speech in classrooms, even criminalizing women and doctors.”

READ MORE: Gavin Newsom airs anti-GOP ad in Florida. ‘Let’s talk about what’s going on in America’

It is a shot at several initiatives backed by DeSantis and his allies in the Legislature, including ones banning “critical race theory” in textbooks, tightening voting restrictions, curbing talk by teachers about issues of sexual identity and shortening the window in which women can terminate a pregnancy.

“I urge all of you living in Florida to join the fight. Or join us in California, where we still believe in freedom — freedom of speech, freedom to choose, freedom from hate and the freedom to love,” Newsom says in the ad.

“This is hilarious!” tweeted Helen Aguirre Ferré, executive director of the Republican Party of Florida. “Under Newsom, California has the highest homeless rate, poverty rate and energy costs. What could Gavin Newsom possibly have to brag about in Florida?”

Her numbers are a little off.

The state with the highest poverty rate is Mississippi with 18.7% followed by Louisiana with 17.8% and New Mexico with 16.8%, the United States Department of Agriculture reported, based on 2020 numbers. Florida ranks 20th with 12.4% (tied with Montana) and California comes in 25th with 11.5%.

The state with the highest average monthly residential electric bill in 2020 was Hawaii at $162.66, followed by Connecticut at $161.55 and Alabama at $143.95, the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported. Florida’s average monthly residential electric bill was $128.64 and California’s was $116.94. (The state with the highest average price in cents per kilowatt-hour is also Hawaii, with 30.28.)

New York State has the highest rate of homelessness with 46.9 per 10,000 residents, followed by Hawaii at 45.6 and California at 40.9, according to a 2022 analysis by 247wallst.com, a Delaware media organization that runs financial news and opinions. Florida came in 17th with 12.8 per 10,000 residents, the analysis found.

Jeremy Redfern, press secretary with the Florida Department of Health, offered a different Twitter retort, presenting photos depicting trash and homeless encampments in Newsom’s home state: “Shouldn’t you be worried about California?” he asked.

In a second tweet, he piled on further: “You’re free to poop on the street in Newsom’s California.”

Not to be outdone, James Grant, Florida’s chief information officer, tweeted. “That time when @GavinNewsom spent “Newsom for Governor” dollars to run for Governor of, wait for it… Florida? All while Californians continues exercising the freedom to vote with their feet and leave California. Rich.”

Mike Madrid, a California-based GOP political consultant, had a slightly different take on Newsom’s ad. A co-founder of the Lincoln Project, which attacks former president Donald Trump on Twitter, Madrid said Newsom’s expenditure was a smart move. He said it cost $100,000 but generated 10 times that in media coverage — and having the “right wing eco-system” attack him raises Newsom’s profile at a time when the Democratic Party is flirting with finding an alternative to President Joe Biden.

No fan of Newsom, Madrid added: “I wish he’d focus on problems here in California, but I gave up on that years ago.”