(NewsNation) — The battle between Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and California Gov. Gavin Newsom is ramping up once again.
At a Tuesday press conference in Panama City, Florida, DeSantis hit back against COVID-19 mandates, making a dig at California with a subtle jab at Newsom.
DeSantis spoke out against what he called the “biomedical security state,” and seemingly called out a new California law that says doctors could be disciplined for spreading lies or misinformation about COVID-19.
“You’re now going to have Florida become the state, if a very high-quality physician is driven out of California, this is going to be the first place people are going to want to go,” DeSantis said.
DeSantis proposed a plan Tuesday to permanently ban COVID-19-related restrictions, including vaccine and mask mandates, in his state.
Within the proposals, a statute would ensure “no one loses their job or medical license for voicing their professional opinions.”
The governor said these policies will protect medical freedom of speech.
DeSantis spoke out against the federal government and President Joe Biden, criticizing the administration’s attempts to enforce strict COVID-19 guidelines.
Previous COVID-19-related policies in Florida were temporarily passed during a 2021 special legislative session or were implemented through executive order. They are now set to set to expire on July 1.
DeSantis’ proposal would enshrine many of the existing policies into state law.
The policies in the proposal would permanently prohibit COVID-19 mask requirements throughout Florida, including in all schools.
It would also permanently prohibit vaccine passports and restrict employers from hiring or firing based on MRNA vaccines.
“We need to lead with this by making all of these protections permanent in Florida statute, which we’re going to do in the upcoming legislative session,” DeSantis said.
The California law does face two legal challenges, one from the ACLU on grounds of infringement of free speech and another from doctors who criticized the government during the pandemic.
The proposed legislation is yet another layer to the red state vs. blue state rivalry between the governors.
Last month, Newsom sent a shot on social media, saying, “I mean forgive me for overindulging on Ron DeSantis. His entire career has been made by exploiting vulnerable communities.”
“I don’t like bullies,” Newsom said.
Newsom and DeSantis have frequently positioned themselves as opposites, while each at the same time has argued that theirs is a state of freedom.
“We have articulated a vision for a free and prosperous state,” DeSantis said during the swearing-in ceremony for his second term in office.
On social media, Newsom posted, “California is the true freedom state.”
“Freedom is who we are — anyone from anywhere can accomplish anything here,” he said. “In our finest hours, California has been freedom’s force multiplier.”
Each governor has been looked at as a potential candidate for the White House, though Newsom’s bid could be stalled if President Joe Biden runs for reelection.
If DeSantis runs, he could present a challenge for former President Donald Trump, as the Florida governor seems to be gaining momentum.