California Gov. Gavin Newsom's donation to a Democrat candidate in the Charleston, South Carolina, mayoral race has reenergized speculation that he's running a shadow campaign for the 2024 presidential race while saying all the right things about backing incumbent President Joe Biden.
Newsom cut a $1,000 check to challenger Clay Middleton as he tries to unseat incumbent John Tecklenburg in Tuesday's election, Axios reported Monday. Newsom's PAC, Campaign for Democracy, also raised $17,000 for Middleton through an email fundraising campaign. Middleton is backed by Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., with the implication being that any Democrat with aspirations of running for president wants to get on the good side of Clyburn and his pull in the Palmetto State, according to Axios.
To that end, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker also donated $1,000 to Middleton's campaign, as have congressional Democrats, Axios reported.
Newsom continues to energize speculation that he's gunning for the White House despite protestations to the contrary. He's coming off visits to China and Israel, trips that were seen as efforts to bolster his national profile.
Dabbling in Charleston's mayoral race comes amid a poll released Sunday that showed Biden losing to Republican front-runner and former President Donald Trump in five of the six key battleground states that Biden won in 2020. Biden is losing to Trump by a range of 3 to 10 points in those battlegrounds.
That poll prompted Democrat analyst and former senior adviser to President Barack Obama David Axelrod to suggest that Biden should drop out.
"If he continues to run, he will be the nominee of the Democratic Party. What he needs to decide is whether that is wise; whether it's in HIS best interest or the country's?" Axelrod wrote Sunday. Axelrod, citing the poll and others, said age is Biden's "biggest liability."
Minnesota Democrat Rep. Dean Phillips has been pilloried for launching a bid to challenge Biden. But Newsom has incurred criticism for running without formalizing a campaign.
"There are two additional Democrats running for Pennsylvania, excuse me, running for president right now," Sen. John Fetterman, D-Pa., said over the weekend. "One is a congressman from Minnesota, the other one is the governor of California, but only one has the guts to announce it."
Mark Swanson ✉
Mark Swanson, a Newsmax writer and editor, has nearly three decades of experience covering news, culture and politics.
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