Midterm elections in the USA: How did Republican star Ron DeSantis come about in Florida?
- Nada Tawfik
- BBC News – Florida
Florida can no longer be described as a swing state, the Republican victory in the state election was remarkable.
And that was thanks to one man: Governor Ron DeSantis, the star of the new right.
The historic victory following de Santis’ re-election as Florida governor put him in direct competition with former US President Donald Trump, also based in Florida, amid expectations that the two will attempt to campaign for the US presidential election in Florida to apply in 2024.
But so far, the Florida governor has been enjoying being the undisputed star of the Republican Party in the midterm elections, as it has been the violent “red wave” of the Republican Party in Florida.
Republicans won by a wide margin over their state rivals and were able to win four House seats held by Democrats, a result attributed to a push by Gov. De Santis.
Of course, de Santis was the happiest of the night, winning in a landslide victory by a margin of about 1.5 million votes between himself and his opponent, the widest margin any Florida governor had won in 40 years.
And speaking to constituents in Miami, De Santis’ name reflected his affection for the man.
But one message has been repeated many times in conversations with scores of voters, suggesting they came to love the Florida governor after the coronavirus outbreak, when he denied strict closures or imposed mask-wearing and gave it as a reason Protection of personal liberties.
Kaitlyn Cope, 30, said she moved to Florida from New York at the time of the pandemic, praising the “openness and freedom” of Florida and Miami.
Andre Verza Roca, a longtime businessman, credited the state governor with allowing him to “keep working and making money.”
Other voters backed the new Republican star because they saw his party as the best of the two options. Among them is John Sanchez, who said Hispanics are “sick of the promises the Democratic Party isn’t delivering,” and hinted that the Republican Party supports what it believes in, which are “family, faith, and business.”
Democrats are trying to portray de Santis as a version of Trump, but Florida political insiders know the two men have a different level of approval than the other.
For Richard DiNapoli, a member of the Republican Party’s state committee who has worked with both Trump and DeSantis, Trump “mobilizes forgotten voters, inspires them to vote.”
In contrast, the governor of Florida wields a lot of power in politics, according to Dinapoli.
“De Santis always gets to the point, passing legislation that many believe would not have been passed before he became governor,” he said.
Brad Coker, a Florida pollster who works for the independent Mason Dixon Company, says the governor, who was nominated to challenge Trump for the Republican presidential nomination, rose to prominence during Hurricane Iam that struck Florida last September .
He added: “I think people trusted him more because of how he handled the hurricane. He stood by Biden, he didn’t turn it into a political game. He really did what the governor was supposed to do, and I think some Democrats liked him, too.”
But for US voter Deborah Klein, DeSantis is a polarizing figure. She moved to Florida over a year ago and sees the governor more as a “hate spreader” than for the good of the state.
Over the past two years, de Santis has made national headlines when he decided to ban gender identity classes in schools and criminalize abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, except for pregnancies stemming from rape or incest.
This helped solidify his image as “a warrior in the fight against the awakening of the liberal agenda”, as he always tells his supporters.
His Democratic opponent, Charlie Crist, tried to provoke the Democrats against DeSantis when he declared during his campaign that his Republican opponent was “the most dangerous and radical of the candidates,” but the end result showed Crist a great loss.
Democrats were unable to make any headway in Republican-controlled areas, turnout in Democratic areas was low, and independents who supported Biden in the presidential election voted for DeSantis.
“Christ excelled politically, but de Santis beat him because Crest was just a weaker candidate,” Coker said.
The Florida governor topped Trump’s 2020 presidential election numbers in key categories Democrats must win if they want to stay in the White House.
He attracted Latinos, women, and even black voters in ways that allowed him to elicit votes from districts that favor Democrats like Palm Beach, Ossola, and of course Miami.
He was also the first governor since 2002 to win the majority of votes in the state’s most popular Hispanic neighborhood—not just elected by Republican-leaning Cubans, but also by South and South Americans of Puerto Rican descent who prefer a Democratic ruler.
Joe Biden won the majority of the Hispanic vote in the 2020 US presidential election by seven points, while De Santis won the Florida vote by 15 points, results that will shape the Florida political landscape for years to come.
In his winning speech, the governor said he had “redrawn the political map”.
Now there is no longer any doubt that Florida is a republic, as it no longer fits the description of the country’s most important swing state.
Mira Adams, a columnist for The Hill newspaper in Florida, says DeSantis is willing to run for the Republican presidential nomination because he believes he is the future of his party.
“The funny thing is that De Santis is like Trump but without the pettiness, the insanity and the pending allegations against Trump,” she added.
Some Miami voters agree with writer Mira Adams: “I would vote for him if he were running against Trump,” said businessman Andre Verza Roca. “And I think Donald Trump is done, he has nothing more to offer.”
Donors also bet on De Santis, who managed to raise $200 million in this election, more than Trump has raised since leaving office.
Voters who didn’t know Ron DeSantis’ name before the midterms are likely to learn more about him now.
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