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Column: Old rivalry, Newsom vs. Harris, assumes new proportion as Democrats look to 2024 and beyond

Gov. Newsom’s presidential ambitions, if they exist, face a major impediment: His friend and rival, Vice President Kamala Harris. Joining them at a recent rally was Newsom’s wife, Jennifer. Recently, as he bathed in the afterglow of his romping, stomping recall victory , Gov. Gavin Newsom was asked the inevitable question.

Did the smashing result , Major Garrett of CBS News wished to know, "accelerate or diminish" Newsom’s ambitions to be president?

"Literally 100% never been on my radar," said the conquering Democrat, delivering the inevitable response.

"Just to be clear, Gov. Newsom has no presidential ambitions?" Garrett followed up.

"No, none, never," Newsom replied.

Newsom should be a very hot commodity right now, especially after beating the recall by such a huge margin. He might conceivably top the list of prospective Democratic presidential candidates touted by political gossips and others who set the early betting line.

But one thing stands in his way: Vice President Kamala Harris.

For well over half a century, the office of California governor has had a sort of magical quality, transforming even the most wooden occupant — think George Deukmejian or Gray Davis — into presidential timber.

Part of it is history.

Ronald Reagan used Sacramento as his stepping stone to the White House and others tried. Jerry Brown ran for president three times, and probably would have done so again in 2016 if his age, 78 at the time, hadn’t caught up with him. Pete Wilson also gave it a shot.

Part of it is heft, that whole nation-state thing.

Apart from president, there is no bigger job in American politics than leading the wealthiest and most populous state in the country.

For Democrats, in particular, California is foundational. The state accounts for nearly a fifth of the electoral votes needed to win the White House — which the party’s nominee typically starts with and looks to build upon — and is far and away the largest source of campaign cash for Democratic candidates and causes nationwide.But as big as California is, there’s not room enough for two top-tier White House hopefuls — especially when one is already the proverbial heart tick away from the presidency.

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