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DeSantis wins big, eyes 2024

DeSantis wins big, eyes 2024

DeSantis wins big, eyes 2024

Leading up to Election Day, there were clear signs that Republicans would win many races. But DeSantis’ victory was epic in its scope because he not only took Miami-Dade County — long a Democratic stronghold — but also won relatively reliable Democratic-leaning counties like Palm Beach and Osceola. Osceola County is particularly significant because it contains a huge contingent of Puerto Rican voters.

Republicans already have a 320,000 voter registration lead in Florida — the first time in Florida’s political history that the state has more Republicans than Democrats — and Democrats now fear DeSantis will have a greater mandate to push for controversial policies as he continues to build his national profile. . DeSantis, for example, won by less than 1 percent after the 2018 recount.

“This is really an exclamation point, the culmination of four years of execution,” said Christian Ziegler, vice chairman of the Florida Republican Party. “This is a great victory. No one can dispute that Floridians support this governor, but perhaps more so than this governor’s plan.”

DeSantis began his term as governor as a moderate, but changed dramatically during the pandemic, where his approach to mandates like mandatory face masks and vaccine passports helped him build a reputation among Republicans across the country.

From there, DeSantis placed Florida at the vanguard of many of the nation’s most polarizing culture wars. That’s made him a star among Republicans and increasingly a political brat nationally for Democrats, who in the 2022 midterms have failed to get national Democratic organizations to spend in Florida as they have in previous cycles.

During his first term, DeSantis vocally opposed critical race theory — an analytical framework originally developed by legal experts that most public school officials say is not taught in K-12 schools — and became the public face of the GOP-led parental rights bill. . , labeled by opponents as “Don’t Talk Gay,” which restricts teachers from providing classroom instruction about sexual orientation and gender identity to students in kindergarten through third grade.

His support for the bill led to a very public fight with the Walt Disney Co., whose CEO was initially silent on the bill but later became a vocal opponent. DeSantis also convinced the Republican legislature to later strip Disney, one of the state’s largest employers, of its special operating status in Florida.

Most recently, his flight of migrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard enraged Democrats, who accused the Florida governor of human trafficking and using vulnerable migrants to advance his political agenda.

“When DeSantis is re-elected, nothing will stop him from pursuing even more extreme policies than he has in the past,” said Sean Shaw, a former Florida House Democrat from Tampa. “Floridians can count on seeing more radical proposals that limit voting access, ban abortion and keep costs high by helping big insurance companies while leaving Floridians to foot the bill.”

But the policies that most concern Democrats are the ones that propelled DeSantis to a landslide victory, made him the presidential candidate, and functionally changed the way the state works politically.

During his first term, DeSantis spent $5 million on voter registration through the Florida Republican Party, spurring a huge increase in registered Republicans. The results were overwhelming. Republicans easily won each of the five statewide races and won several key seats in the Florida Senate, taking a supermajority in that chamber.

“Governor DeSantis made an early investment in registration and led Republicans to a 300,000-voter lead,” said Evan Power, chairman of the Florida GOP Caucus. “Now, with big Republican wins, he’s dramatically turned Florida red. This will be a huge political victory that will define Governor DeSantis here in Florida and on the national stage.”

Still, DeSantis’ national ambitions run head-on with former President Donald Trump, who is expected to announce his 2024 White House bid in mid-November, if not sooner.

Tensions between the possible 2024 rivals are already rising. Trump did not invite DeSantis to a rally in Miami over the weekend for Rubio, while the governor separately held his re-election rallies around the state. But most directly, Trump rebuked DeSantis with a disparaging nickname: “DeSanctimonious.”



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