Many political advisors to President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris have been irked by California Governor Gavin Newsom’s plan to debate Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, calling the move “disrespectful.”
Without consulting the Biden-Harris transition team, Newsom had contacted the Florida governor’s office about possibly engaging in a televised, hour-long, one-on-one debate instead of a more traditional town hall-style forum.
The move has since been met with a strong rebuke from prominent Biden and Harris supporters, including former South Bend Mayor and now Biden and Harris senior advisor Pete Buttigieg, who wrote on Twitter: “It’s wrong for any elected official to prolong the election season with debates. Governor Newsom should focus on getting President-elect Biden ready to lead and restoring the dignity of the Oval Office.”
The disagreement between the California governor and Biden-Harris transition team comes at a precarious time for the incoming administration. With Republican senators still refusing to recognize Biden and Harris as the future president and vice president and President Donald Trump persisting in his efforts to overturn the election, the last thing Biden and Harris need is the appearance of more division in their ranks.
Given the increased awareness of toxic workplace dynamics and the urgent need for leaders to set a positive example, the Biden-Harris team associates the Newsom-DeSantis matchup with a lack of respect and bad behavior that cannot be tolerated. In a statement, the transition team declared, “We believe it is important to respect the results of the election and move on to the challenge of governing.”
The situation is a reminder that, in a time of political polarization, working together is more essential than ever. Despite a long and heated election season, now is not the time to be focusing on a side show of debates, but on unifying and moving forward in a spirit of respect and bridging unlikely political divides.