If there’s one place where President Donald Trump is not welcome, it’s California. Morning Consult’s state-by-state tracker shows that Trump is underwater 30 points in the state. In 2018, Californians elected Democrats to seven seats previously held by Trump’s allies.
The upshot, according to Tim Arango, Thomas Fuller, and Jose A. Del Real in The New York Times, is that California Democrats, who solidly control the state government from Gov. Gavin Newsom to supermajorities in both chambers of the legislature, are passing a sweeping package of laws meant to stand up to Trump — and lay out a sweeping new progressive vision in the process.
“Donald Trump has been the impetus for putting everything on warp speed,” said Democratic political strategist Garry South, who advises campaigns in California. “It has pushed Democrats in California to take actions that might otherwise have been viewed as a little less urgent if we had a Democrat in the White House.”
In recent months, California has gone behind the federal government’s back to negotiate with four major automakers on emissions standards, effectively hobbling Trump’s efforts to roll back Obama-era efficiency growth targets. Democrats there have also expanded medical care for immigrants, and abolished private prisons — including ICE detention centers. Lawmakers also passed a novel anti-corruption law requiring candidates release their tax returns to qualify for the primary ballot. And state Attorney General Xavier Becerra has been behind 59 lawsuits against the administration.
The feeling is mutual. Trump routinely riles up his base by taunting California as a morass of homelessness and poverty, and has asserted with zero evidence that voter fraud in the state is what cost him the popular vote in 2016. His administration is also fighting back against the measures California has taken against his agenda, including an antitrust investigation into the automakers that brokered an agreement with the state.
The rivalry between the Trump administration and California is unlikely to abate any time soon — and will likely escalate.