Gov. Ron DeSantis Provides Blueprint for Defeating the Left

AP Photo/John Raoux

Democrats are giving up on Florida, and nobody can blame them. Republicans have soundly defeated the left in the Sunshine State and the GOP would be wise to take notice. Gov. Ron DeSantis and Republicans in the state legislature have delivered a sound drubbing to Democrats in the state, and to anyone paying attention, it does not come as a surprise.

Democrats’ political fortunes in Florida have become rather dismal as Republicans solidify their influence in the state’s politics. Politico noted that “funds from national donor groups have dried up after Florida Democrats suffered stinging losses in recent years.” From the report:

President Joe Biden’s policies loosening sanctions on Venezuela and easing restrictions on Cuba could be politically toxic in Latino-heavy South Florida. The administration was seen as making moves without considering political outcomes or improving Biden’s standing with a demographic key to winning the state.

“If you were to ask me, does Florida give you as good a return on investment as other places? Clearly right now it does not,” Democratic National Committee Finance Director Chris Korge told Politico. “We got our butts kicked in Florida recently. Our butts kicked.”

DeSantis has become a bogeyman to the left as his popularity continues to rise. Korge noted that giving up on the state might place Democrats in a precarious position on the national stage.

“I think the White House absolutely thinks we need to be engaged there now rather than waiting until 2024 when it becomes more expensive to stop [DeSantis],” he insisted. “We are going to be engaged in the midterm and, you can quote me on this, the DNC is absolutely not giving up on Florida.”

The fact that the GOP has now outpaced in voter registration is also a source of concern for Democrats. From Politico:

There has been a creeping sense among state-level Democrats that national groups, including the White House and Democratic Governors Association, are writing off a state where Republicans have scored big wins and recently overtook Democrat’s voter registration advantage for the first time in modern Florida political history. When President Barack Obama won Florida in 2008, registered Democrats outnumbered Republicans in the state by nearly 700,000. They outnumbered Republicans by more than 550,000 in 2012. But Biden lost the state to Donald Trump and Republicans now outnumber Democrats by more than 175,000.

However, Democrats seem to understand that Florida’s politics could also have wider implications, specifically, the rise of Gov. DeSantis as a major player on the national stage. He is largely viewed as a formidable presidential contender in 2024’s election, especially if former President Donald Trump chooses not to run. But even if he does, DeSantis could still be a strong candidate in 2028 and the left is trying desperately to blunt his appeal.

President Joe Biden has been trading rhetorical blows with the governor over the past few weeks. He slammed DeSantis for refusing to pre-order COVID-19 vaccines for children. He also issued an executive order prohibiting programs that receive federal money from providing “conversion therapy,” which is a response to the governor’s push to stop state-funded gender-affirming care for transgender minors. California Gov. Gavin Newsom, who is increasingly being seen as a presidential contender, has also taken shots at DeSantis.

“On the political spending and campaign stuff, I don’t think the play has changed at all in recent weeks, even as the president has talked about DeSantis,” said a former administration official told Politico. “Florida has trended further to the right, and there is not a world right now where Democratic organizations intend to spend a ton of money there.”

Even more telling is the fact that the Democratic Governor’s Association indicated Florida would not be as much of a focal point as it has been in the past. But this pivot started in 2020 when Biden’s campaign manager decided to allocate resources to Arizona instead of Florida.

“It was not like she hated Florida,” the former administration official said. “She just did not believe there was real opportunity there. It’s why she invested in places like Arizona, not Florida like many wanted. She was right.”

DeSantis is one of the few GOP politicians to take on the left and win. His pugnacious approach to dealing with the activist media has played well with the conservative base. The governor’s victory in his dust-up with the Walt Disney Company over the Parental Rights in Education law was another feather in his cap. Republicans in the state’s legislature also played an important role in passing laws pushing back on the progressive agenda – especially in public K-12 schools. Many view the governor as Trump 2.0, which is yet another reason Democrats fear him.

Gov. DeSantis and Florida’s GOP officials provide a winning example for Republicans across the country to follow. It is a rare situation in which the right has put the left on defense, revealing the reality that Democrats don’t do so well when forced to defend their policies and ideas. The governor has demonstrated how going on the offensive instead of remaining on the defense is the right play. In essence, he is following the example of President Trump, who has shown the party how to fight. So far, it has worked out well for DeSantis and the overall conservative movement. The question is: Will the rest of the party follow suit?


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