Harris Ranch is at the crossroads of California, in a literal sense. Located in Coalinga off of Interstate 5, it is the midpoint between the Bay Area and southern California.
It’s where families take a break on long road trips, often getting a relatively cheap barbecue bite or a more relaxed (and expensive) steak meal at the restaurant.
Most of the travelers during the Monday lunch rush seemed oblivious to one special guest — the man who could be the next president, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
The Republican snuck in and out of the Coalinga landmark undetected by the public nor the media, by design. He flew in and out of the nearby Coalinga airport, ushered to the back loading docks by unmarked Fresno County Sheriff’s vehicles.
The Central Valley lunch stop for 60 donors — paying $3,300 — was in between a breakfast event in Sacramento, and an evening in southern California.
The only indication that something special was going on was a “private event” sign. Most of the questions for the security guard related to the location of the restrooms.
The DeSantis campaign opted not to make the man who has political battles on three fronts — President Joe Biden, former president and Republican frontrunner Donald Trump, and California Gov. Gavin Newsom — available to the media with the exception of an interview with the San Joaquin Valley Sun.
Biden, joined by Newsom, campaigned in northern California during the same time DeSantis was asking for money in Coalinga. Biden also held fundraisers. According to media reports, Biden did have a brief comment about DeSantis.
Asked about the DeSantis appearance in Sacramento, where he allegedly sent immigrants, Biden replied, “It’s hard to comment on things like that.”
As DeSantis started his California trip, his campaign released a video, criticizing California’s policies.
The debate is already settled.
— DeSantis War Room 🐊 (@DeSantisWarRoom) June 19, 2023
What Did DeSantis Say?
Michael Maher is running for Congress in 2024 against incumbent Democrat Jim Costa. Maher lost to Costa in 2022.
“(DeSantis) spoke on what he has delivered for the people of Florida and the many Californians who have moved out to his state during his time as governor, from environmental to infrastructure,” Maher said, describing the governor’s speech.
Reports indicate that there are slightly more Californians moving to Florida than the other way around.
DeSantis shared stories of building back after hurricane damage, to improving water quality.
“Nationally, DeSantis shared clear and pragmatic plans on how to take charge of the out of control federal bureaucracy, only worsening under Biden, and getting government back to working for the people instead of against them,” Maher said.
The Florida governor also talked about global supply chain problems and China, and “how to make life better for the people here in the United States,” Maher said.
Others reported that DeSantis said Trump’s tariffs were “not effective.”
The Florida governor also talked about the success of Florida’s education system; combatting fentanyl, criticizing Trump and Biden; and the success of Florida’s economy.
— David Taub (@TaubGVWire) June 19, 2023
Hosted by Spencer and Harris
John Harris, the rancher and entrepreneur, hosted the DeSantis event at his eponymous resort, along with Fresno developer Richard F. Spencer.
Harris was unable to attend, but Spencer did grant a rare media interview with GV Wire.
“This stopped short of advocacy, and it’s mostly meant to be, exposure. So we think that this guy is a real good guy and and and probably would make a real good president,” Spencer said.
Spencer also praised other Republican presidential candidates Tim Scott and Nikki Haley. Harris representatives indicated more candidates could be invited in the future.
Where does Spencer stand in Trump vs. DeSantis?
“I think Trump did a lot of really good things for us before he did some not-so-good things for us, us being conservative Republicans. I would personally be delighted if he changed his mind … and didn’t run. But I doubt very much that that’s going to happen,” Spencer said.