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California Governor runs ads in Texas calling out Gov. Abbott on guns and abortion laws

Part of an advertisement California Gov. Gavin Newsom published in the Houston Chronicle, the El Paso Times and the Austin-American Statesman on Friday, July 22.
Incitement Design
Part of an advertisement California Gov. Gavin Newsom published in the Houston Chronicle, the El Paso Times and the Austin American-Statesman on Friday, July 22.

The full-page ads tout California’s recent passage of a gun law that allows people to sue those who illegally manufacture guns. The law is modeled after Texas’ controversial abortion legislation.

California Governor Gavin Newsom ran full-page advertisements in three of Texas’ daily newspapers Friday criticizing Gov. Greg Abbott and the state legislature for an abortion bill that went into effect last year.

The ad, which was published in the Houston Chronicle, the El Paso Times and the Austin American-Statesman, also highlights recent legislation passed in California that was modeled after Senate Bill 8, the controversial Texas law that bans most abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy. SB 8 also allows for private citizens to take to court anyone who helps someone obtain an abortion and receive $10,000 and legal fees if the lawsuit is successful.

“Today Governor Newsom signed SB 1327, California’s answer to Texas’ perverse bill that placed bounties on doctors and patients. If Texas can ban abortion and endanger lives, California can ban deadly weapons of war and save lives,” Newsom’s ads read.

In a font that mimics hand-written notes, the ad replaces some of what Abbott said when he signed the abortion bill. Abbott’s statement from that day reads: “Our creator endowed us with the right to life. And yet … children lose their right to live every year because of abortion. In Texas, we work to save those lives.”

The ad replaces “abortion” with “gun violence” and “Texas” with “California.” It also crosses out Abbott’s name and edits in Newsom’s name.

Abbott spokesperson Renea Eze said in an email in response to the ad that: "Governor Newsom should focus on all the jobs and businesses that are leaving California and coming to Texas.”

Incitement Design

In a statement Thursday, Newsom touted the state’s recently passed gun laws, stating they will “improve school campus safety, restrict gun possession by people convicted of child abuse or elder abuse, and better regulate the sale of firearms.” He also highlighted his endorsement of SB 1327, which he described as “private right of action legislation to limit the spread of assault weapons and ghost guns.”

The ad was placed as Texans are still reeling from the tragedy in Uvalde on May 24 where an 18-year-old gunman killed 19 students and two teachers at Robb Elementary School. Abbott and law enforcement have come under attack from gun-reform groups and Democrats for what they say was a botched response to the tragedy. It’s also noteworthy that the ad ran in the El Paso Times. The city is less than two weeks away from the three-year anniversary of the mass shooting at a Walmart that claimed the lives of 23 people.

Abbott isn’t the first Republican governor Newsom has targeted like this. Earlier this month, Newsom ran an ad in Florida focused on Ron DeSantis, that state’s Republican governor, and policies he recently championed. DeSantis has been viewed as a potential GOP nominee for the White House in 2024. Newsom’s foray into politics outside of California has fueled speculation on his own ambitions, including a potential challenge to President Joe Biden. Newsom has denied that is his intent, according to Politico.

In an interview with NBC, Newsom said his goal to urge Democrats to grow a spine.

“I think Democrats have been playing a little soft," he told NBC.

Though the California law can be seen as an in-your-face response to Texas, some civil liberties organizations say it will do more harm than good.

“One of the authors of the California bill has touted it as taking advantage of the ‘flawed logic’ of SB 8, to try to address what is certainly a significant problem in our state: the proliferation of illegal guns,” the American Civil Liberties Union of California said in May. “We believe it is a serious misstep to further entrench that flawed logic. In doing so, California will be promoting a legal end-run that can be used by any state to deny people an effective means to have their constitutional rights protected by the courts.”