Gavin Newsom will almost certainly be re-elected as governor of California in November, with a little-known Republican state senator the only thing between him and a second term at the helm of the nation’s most populous state.

That’s why Newsom’s campaign is more about his political future and overhauling the Democratic Party ahead of the 2024 presidential election, the success of which is much harder to predict.

It’s been just two years since Democrats retook the White House, lining up behind Joe Biden, an old-school lawmaker who came of age before social media amplified the worst aspects of politics and changed what it takes to win.

Now many in the Democratic Party are worried about whether Biden can win in 2024, especially in a rematch with former President Donald Trump who, despite his legal troubles, could still be a formidable opponent. If Biden doesn’t show up, Newsom has been touted as a potential replacement for him on the ballot.

Newsom’s recent actions have only reinforced this idea. His campaign paid for ads in Florida and Texas, home to Ron DeSantis and Greg Abbott, the nation’s two most outspoken Republican governors and potential 2024 GOP presidential nominees.

He moved quickly to win the support of the party’s liberal voter base and donors, ordering state regulators to phase out the sale of petrol cars and signing more than a dozen laws to make California a sanctuary for women from other states wishing to have an abortion now that the United States Supreme Court has overturned Roe v. Wade.

“He doesn’t want to talk about his run in California, he wants to talk about his run for president. Because, again, it’s all about him,” said Brian Dahle, the state’s Republican senator challenging Newsom in the election this fall.

Newsom insists he’s not running for president, saying he backs Biden and, if Biden doesn’t run, Vice President Kamala Harris – who entered politics at the same time and place than Newsom, with the couple even sharing political advisers.

While Newsom’s focus on National Republicans infuriates the California GOP, it’s the best strategy for him right now, said Eric Schickler, a political science professor at the University of California-Berkeley.

“Yeah, he could attack California Republicans,” Schickler said. “But it seems more California Democrats know who Ron DeSantis is than Brian Dahle.”

Instead, Newsom says he may be tackling an even bigger project: a complete overhaul of Democratic Party messaging ahead of the 2024 presidential election.

The Democrats, according to Newsom, are too soft. He says Democrats always defend and never attack, a strategy that puts Republicans in control of the political narrative on cable news and social media.

He is careful to praise party leaders, including Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. But in a recent interview, Newsom made it clear that the party’s strategy of trying to bridge the gap between the country’s left and right wings will not work.

“I think the president learned that the hard way,” Newsom told MSNBC during a campaign trip to texas. “I mean, he’s wired for a different world, and here we go.”

Instead of appealing to a broad voter base, Newsom Florida’s television ads told residents that “freedom is under attack in your state” and urged them to move to California. In Texas, Newsom took out a full-page newspaper ad with a quote from Abbott about children who lost their lives through abortion, editing it to say “gun violence” instead.

And in seven conservative states that have banned or severely restricted abortion, Newsom paid for billboards urging women to come to California for the procedure – including a link to a website that will show them how California taxpayers will help. to pay their travel expenses.

“I’m optimistic about the ability (of the Democrats) to turn the situation around – if we go on the offensive,” Newsom, who declined an interview request with The Associated Press, told MSNBC. “That’s why I make the billboards. That’s why I make these commercials.

Newsom’s aggressive criticism of the Democratic Party “rubs some people the wrong way,” said Steven Maviglio, a California Democratic political operative who opposed Newsom on a nationwide ballot initiative. the state that would raise taxes on the rich.

If Newsom really wanted to help the party, Maviglio said, he would devote his time and resources to helping California Democrats win and keep their seats in the U.S. House, which could determine which political party controls Congress for a while. the last two years of Biden’s term.

“Here is a popular governor who should pay attention to the close races not just in his home state but across the country instead of this vanity campaign,” Maviglio said. “Every National Democrat will agree that fundraising and campaigning for candidates in tight races is more valuable than promoting yourself two months before midterm.”

Newsom’s campaign spokesman Nathan Click said the governor supports all of California’s Democratic congressional candidates by hosting fundraisers for them or raising money on their behalf via email.

“It has one of the best mailing lists in the country – we often collect more (with) one email than a traditional event,” Click said.

Click also said Newsom is raising money for Democratic gubernatorial candidates in other states, including Katie Hobbs in Arizona, Charlie Crist in Florida, Josh Shapiro in Pennsylvania, Stacey Abrams in Georgia, Chris Jones in Arkansas and Beto O. ‘Rourke Texas.

Newsom’s campaign says he is also the second financial contributor to support Proposition 1, an election measure that would enshrine the right to abortion in the California Constitution. Last month, Newsom’s campaign donated more than $876,000 to the campaign.

“He helps the whole party elevate its national message in a way that people in competitive races and in smaller states may not be able to,” said political science professor Matt Barreto. at UCLA and Senior Advisor to Building Back Better, a nonprofit organization. launched to support the Biden administration’s agenda. “I don’t see it as taking the spotlight away from anyone.”

Newsom eclipses Dahle, his Republican opponent. Dahle is a farmer from the far northeast of the state and is little known outside of his district. He doesn’t have enough money to run statewide television commercials, so he has traveled extensively and promoted himself on social media.

Dahle’s only chance against Newsom will be in a Sunday debate, broadcast live on radio on a Sunday afternoon during the NFL season.

“I’ve been an underdog all my life,” Dahle said. “I believe I can win.”