SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Perhaps one of the most unusual debates of the 2024 election cycle is set to unfold Thursday. After months of anticipation, California Governor Gavin Newsom and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis will meet for a 90-minute battle.
"They're able to use their opponent as a foil. Newsom can use DeSantis to play to his base and talk about how progressive he is and how well California is doing against Florida. And then DeSantis is going to do the same thing with Newsom," said political science professor Melissa Michelson.
Local Democrats say Newsom is likely to hit DeSantis on issues like abortion and LBGTQ rights, while touting California's strong tech-based economy.
They tell ABC7 the governor will also try to be an advocate for President Joe Biden.
"We're talking about providing the basics like healthcare, infrastructure, new jobs, energy - those are the things that we have really focused on in California and having the fifth largest economy in the world," said Honey Mahogany, the chair of the San Francisco Democratic Party.
On the other side of the aisle, DeSantis supporters say the Florida governor will attack Newsom for things like California's declining population and drug and homelessness crises.
They believe the debate is a good way to showcase Desantis's Florida model and gain momentum for his current presidential campaign.
"The blueprint that he has in Florida seems to be working. The economy is good down there. He's protecting children in schools from what he believes is not proper to be teaching them," said DeSantis campaign surrogate Rob Salvador.
While both Newsom and DeSantis are expected to talk about the main issues of the 2024 election, many experts also believe this debate is about a lot more than just that.
They say it's a chance for both of them to solidify their long-term political goals.
"Most likely they're not thinking about running against each other in 2024, but maybe next time. Maybe sometime down the line," Michelson said.
No matter what side of the political spectrum you may be on, many think this debate will be one worth watching.
"I think it might be entertaining, just because they are so different," said Michelson.
If you're on the ABC7 News app, click here to watch live