NC could host planned DeSantis-Newsom debate

Images of Gov. Gavin Newsom and Gov. Ron DeSantis from their official Twitter accounts

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  • North Carolina is one of three states proposed for a fall "Red v. Blue" debate between Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
  • DeSantis agreed Wednesday to take part in the debate. Newsom had presented a formal proposal to Fox News to host the debate. Conservative commentator Sean Hannity would moderate the event on Nov. 8 or Nov. 10.
  • Newsom's proposal described North Carolina as a "key purple state that would serve as an ideal location" for the 90-minute live debate. The event would have no in-studio audience.

North Carolina is one of three neutral sites proposed to host a debate between Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom this fall.

DeSantis agreed Wednesday to take part in the debate.

“Absolutely. I’m game. Just tell me when and where,” he told Fox News host Sean Hannity.

Hannity would serve as the sole moderator for the debate. Fox News would host it. Newsom had proposed both Fox and Hannity in documents sent to the network last week, Politico reported.

Newsom’s proposal called for a Nov. 8 or Nov. 10 debate. The event would air live for 90 minutes. The three-page letter called for a debate with no in-studio audience.

The California governor offered three potential locations: Nevada, Georgia, or North Carolina.

“Nevada has consistently served as a battleground state for local to state to federal level elections,” Newsom’s letter said. “The state most recently flipped to a Republican Governor, while maintaining Democratic control in its state legislature, making it an interesting location for this debate.”

”Georgia has a Republican trifecta on the state level, but has most recently been trending toward Democratic leadership on the federal level,” the letter continued. “When President Biden won Georgia in 2022, he became the first Democratic presidential candidate to carry the state since Bill Clinton in 1992. After 1960, the only three Democrats to carry Georgia in a presidential election have been Biden, Clinton and native son Jimmy Carter. Georgie is a true purple state that will represent both parties effectively.”

“North Carolina is also a key purple state that would serve as an ideal location for these debates,” Newsom’s letter added. “North Carolina will be home to one of the most closely watched Gubernatorial races of 2024. The state has a Democratic triplex and a divided trifecta.”

“Democratic triplex” refers to North Carolina having Democrats serving now as governor, attorney general, and secretary of state. “Divided trifecta” refers to the fact that Republicans control the state’s legislative chambers while Democrat Roy Cooper serves as governor.

Cooper cannot serve more than two consecutive terms, so his seat is up for grabs in 2024.

DeSantis is running for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024, while Newsom is not a current candidate for office. Newsom won re-election in 2022 to a second four-year term in California’s top executive post.

While DeSantis and Newsom are not running against each other in a current political campaign, they have engaged in media sparring matches in recent months.

Newsom’s document described the proposed November event as a “Red v. Blue Debate.”

“Governor Gavin Newsom has both challenged and agreed to debate Governor Ron DeSantis on multiple occasions,” the letter stated. “He welcomes the discussion on how Democratic policies are delivering real results for the American people. This event will be marketed as a Red v. Blue debate that is focused on the impact of representation at the state level.”

The two governors and Hannity would be joined by no other speakers. “Participants (Governors) will not use any notes or bring any prepared documents on stage,” Newsom’s letter recommended. “There will be a pen and a pad of paper for each Governor to use during the program. Staff will not brief participants once the program has begun.”

The document offered no details about a specific site for any of the three proposed states.