TALLAHASSEE – Governor Ron DeSantis seems unstoppable.
A year before the Florida gubernatorial election, the Republican governor has nearly $ 60 million in the bank. The GOP is on the verge of becoming the majority party in the country after erasing the Democrats ’huge advantage in voter registration. The democratic field is splitting and support for President Joe Biden has fallen in the country.
This is a situation that has upset Democrats, who fear that the days of Florida as a battlefield country are over and that national donors will write off their candidates.
“Right now, Democrats are dealing with Powerball policy. We could be lucky, but it’s more likely to happen because of circumstances beyond their control than because of their ability to change the political environment in Florida, ”said Fernand Amandi, a Democratic political adviser and pollist from Miami. , which helped Barack Obama conquer the country. in 2008 and 2012.
This is not the place Democrats expected three years ago when DeSantis defeated then-Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum by just under 34,000 votes. This shows Democrats still have plenty of room to cover before 2024 if they have any hope of regaining Florida’s 30 electoral votes after former President Donald Trump won the country in 2016 and then with a larger backlog in 2020.
Much has changed since DeSantis was first elected. During the pandemic, DeSantis turned right as he defended his position against the lock and the anti-mandate Covid. He advocated laws and policies targeting social media giants and racial justice protesters, and fought against teaching “critical race theory” in schools. His policies have raised his reputation nationally and turned DeSantis into a leading presidential candidate in 2024 if Trump does not run.
In a state that turns red, it works. Recent polls shared with POLITICA show that half of registered voters believe the country is heading in the right direction, compared to only 25 percent who believe the country is heading in the right direction.
State Representative Anna Eskamani, a progressive Democrat from Orlando who pondered the DeSantis challenge, also acknowledges the grim position of Democrats.
“The election will not take place tomorrow, it is still time for the flow to reverse,” Eskamani said. “But obviously there has to be a versatile situation now.”
Manny Diaz, president of the Democratic Party of Florida, responded to a question about the gubernatorial race, saying it was “amazing that we’ve been talking for a year” about DeSantis’ victory.
“We’re in Florida. We lost the last governor’s game by 30,000 votes against the same character,” Diaz said. “It’s been an eternity in politics. Nothing leads me to believe DeSantis is invincible.”
Diaz pointed out that many of the laws promoted by DeSantis ended up in the courts, where he lost several legal battles. He argued that many in the business community are deterred by the governor’s efforts to follow them if they do not follow his example against vaccine mandates. He added that his efforts to withdraw money from school districts because of the mandates for masks and the growing number of murders in the country will not suit Florida voters well.
“I look at his record and say,‘ What exactly are you running for? What makes you invincible? ” Diaz said. “If I were to run for governor, I would be thrilled. Bring this guy. “
The three main Democrats jumped into the game against DeSantis: a U.S. representative. Charlie Crist, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried and State Senator Annette Taddeo. Both Fried and Crist registered for the race in early summer, and Taddeo only joined the race in mid-October.
Crist, who was elected governor in 2006 when he was still a Republican, has been elected several times across the country, but not since 2014, when he lost by a hair against the then governor. Rick Scott.
Crist has received more than 100 grants, invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in growing digital operations, and conducted nearly 60 separate campaigns across the country in the past few months. And despite the governor’s current strengths, he remains optimistic about DeSantis ’defeat. But Crist has less than $ 3 million in the bank.
“Of course we’re going to beat the guy, he’s going to fall,” Crist said during a campaign performance in Tallahassee in October. “People don’t like what he’s doing, and Covid is the spearhead.”
Fried, a former lobbyist, has never held an elected office before winning closely in her 2018 race. However, she is the only Democrat to win the state election since 2012. She is a constant critic of DeSantis, leading to an increase in online activity and quite a constant flow of media reporting. She has made some moves with Crist – including his recent turnaround due to marijuana legalization – and has a very small monetary advantage over him. But he directs much of his energy to blowing up the governor.
In a statement issued by the campaign, Fried insisted she had a “clear momentum in the race” and that her aid organization was attracting thousands of volunteers.
“Governor DeSantis is running scared – so he’s more focused on his presidential campaign than on doing what’s right on the part of the people in the country he’s supposed to rule,” Fried said. “We are achieving our fundraising and volunteering goals and I am more confident every day that we will beat it.”
On the other hand, the DeSantis campaign is moving forward. The campaign is taking steps to formalize its organization and DeSantis is expected to formally submit some of its initial re-election documents between now and the end of the year.
One of the main goals of the campaign remains to create a major fundraising advantage to prevent national democrats from flooding the country with money in the final stages of the campaign.
“This guy is running like he’s 10 points behind,” said Nick Iarossi, a Republican lobbyist and longtime DeSantis adviser. “It won’t let the gas out.”
Melissa Stone, campaign manager for Scott’s 2014 re-election campaign, noted that “Florida is always tough” and that she still expects a competitive race, citing a close difference in the race to choose Scott’s 2018 successor. helped lead Scott’s victory while he was a Democrat in the White House – Obama.
“It’s really hard to win,” said Stone, who is currently an adviser to Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, who will also be in the election next year. “It’s never taken for granted.”
But Stone said DeSantis – who has stepped up his criticism of Biden because of everything from vaccine mandates to immigration policy – has already been able to show a dramatic contrast between him and Democrats.
And that’s why it’s going to be hard to beat, says Kartik Krishnaiyer, a longtime Democratic activist and former campaign adviser.
Krishnaiyer says he is concerned about moving Florida to the right and that DeSantis is “skillfully playing the cultural line” with his focus on the nation’s cultural wars.
“The bottom line is that we are dealing with a much more ruthless and sophisticated operator than Rick Scott was,” Krishnaiyer said.