Most recently, Newsom proposed a ban on new oil and gas drilling within 3,200 feet of schools, homes and hospitals in what would be the largest buffer zone in the U.S. in a state that is the country's seventh-largest oil producer.
Newsom easily defeated a Republican-backed recall election last month that sought to remove him from office, solidifying his power in the nation's most populous state. Newsom's trip to Scotland would have been his most significant international trip as governor so far, providing him a global platform to highlight his agenda while pushing world leaders to do the same.
“Coming off after beating the recall, he’s got a buzz and of course he’s going to move on from governor to something else [someday]. It is a missed opportunity, so of course you have to think it’s something serious with his family,” said Shaun Bowler, a UC Riverside political science professor. “That’s what these events do, they give you good press at home.”
Newsom is up for reelection in 2022 and is a heavy favorite to remain in office for a second term. Under California law, governors are limited to two terms.
Newsom had only recently decided to attend the conference, which starts Sunday, sending staff, media organizations and other lawmakers scrambling to prepare for the trip without much notice. His decision not to go was equally abrupt and more surprising.
“I don’t think we want to read something into it,” said state Senate Majority Leader Bob Hertzberg, D-Van Nuys, who is attending the conference. “My sense is the person who’s probably most disappointed that he’s not going is Gavin Newsom, because I don’t think I’ve ever walked into his office without him talking about climate change. He loves this issue, he cares about it a lot. It’s a big deal to him, and I’m sure he desperately wanted to go.”
Hertzberg credited Newsom for putting his children first, while noting that the governor’s plan to attend virtually has become far more common since it became all but standard during the worst of the coronavirus pandemic.
Nor will it be too costly politically, Hertzberg said.
“Maybe he might miss some photo ops that might be happening,” he said. “The fact that he’s there or not there doesn’t impact California’s importance in this discussion on the one hand, and certainly doesn’t impact the political aspects in California, where he has to get reelected in the primary and the general [election].”
“At some point, as much as we want to be out there in politics, you’re a human being. You’ve got to take care of your family,” Hertzberg said. And he’s doing it, and I think that’s a good thing.”