Newsom versus DeSantis: How, when and where to watch the governors debate

California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Govs. Gavin Newsom and Ron DeSantis will face off Thursday evening in a one-of-a-kind debate that pits California against Florida. (Associated Press)
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Govs. Gavin Newsom and Ron DeSantis will take the stage in Georgia on Thursday evening for a one-of-a-kind debate pitting California against Florida.

The televised event will highlight the different styles of governance of the two coastal states, which are politically distinctive. Democrats' leadership of California will be contrasted with increasingly conservative Florida, where Republicans control state government.

Fox News Channel is hosting the event, which it's dubbed "DeSantis vs. Newsom: The Great Red vs. Blue State Debate." The program is set to begin at 6 p.m. Pacific. The debate will also be broadcast on Fox News Radio and livestreamed on FoxNews.com, but a cable subscription is required.

Sean Hannity will moderate the debate at a studio in Alpharetta, Ga., without a live audience. He is expected to prompt the governors on issues including the economy, the border, immigration, crime and inflation for a 90-minute discussion. After the debate, Hannity will host a 30-minute reactions roundtable with panelists.

Read more: California vs. Florida Cheat Sheet: What have Gavin Newsom and Ron DeSantis actually done for their states?

The long-awaited debate comes more than a year after Newsom challenged the Florida governor in a tweet, saying, “Hey [DeSantis], clearly you’re struggling, distracted, and busy playing politics with people’s lives. Since you have only one overriding need — attention — let’s take this up & debate. I’ll bring my hair gel. You bring your hairspray. Name the time before Election Day.”

It is extraordinarily unusual for governors from different states to debate each other. But both DeSantis and Newsom are ambitious politicians who hunger for publicity.

DeSantis is trailing former President Trump in polling for the Republican presidential primary, and desperately needs a boost to his campaign. Newsom is not running for president next year but will be termed out of the governor's office in 2027 and could toss his hat in the 2028 presidential race.

Read more: 'Woke,' Disney and COVID-19: The Newsom-DeSantis debate ultimate bingo cards

Both governors have gained national attention for their handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, issues of race and their infamous lobbing of insults against each other. Newsom ran election ads last year in Florida, urging Floridians to "join us in California, where we still believe in freedom." On a California campaign stop a couple months ago, DeSantis didn't miss the opportunity to tie Newsom to the Biden administration: "What California is doing now is likely what a second Biden term would do, or God forbid Kamala Harris, or God forbid Newsom himself, who knows, right?”

Newsom has been a loyal surrogate for the Biden campaign, touting the president's accomplishments in appearances around the country and helping Biden raise money from wealthy California donors.

Get the best of the Los Angeles Times’ politics coverage with the Essential Politics newsletter.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.