Florida Governor Ron DeSantis Wins Re-Election
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Long viewed as the nation’s biggest swing state, Florida is becoming more of a Republican lock. Governor Ron DeSantis won re-election in a dominating victory over Charlie Crist, reaffirming his standing as a rising GOP star with White House ambitions.
His success in flipping Democratic stronghold Miami-Dade County and across the state further fuels speculation that he will run for president in 2024.
1. DeSantis’s campaign strategy
DeSantis seized on conservative tenets in his campaign, portraying himself as the leader of a movement to defend America’s values against liberal “mob rule.” He pushed back against accusations of racism from Democrats and drew in voters by attacking Democratic President Joe Biden and criticizing the media.
He also appealed to voters by calling for a tighter embrace of the Second Amendment and warning against “socialism” in schools. He won support from a broad range of voters, including those in traditionally Democratic Miami-Dade County.
The resounding victory enhances DeSantis’ profile as a rising GOP star with White House ambitions, and puts him on a collision course with Trump. It further deepens a rightward shift in what was once the nation’s largest swing state, with even Democratic strongholds like Palm Beach and Osceola embracing a governor who framed his candidacy as a fight against a “woke” agenda. In his victory speech, DeSantis pledged to keep fighting for the values of Florida and praised a state that “is a model of how we should be in America.” The Associated Press projected DeSantis as the winner at 8:03 p.m.
2. DeSantis’s victory
DeSantis’s win over Crist was a resounding one for Florida Republicans. It dwarfed the razor-thin margin of victory that DeSantis secured over Democratic Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum in 2018. And it’s a sign that Republicans have cemented their grip on the state, even as Democrats have reclaimed power in many suburban districts across the country.
A former Navy lawyer, DeSantis benefited from Trump’s popularity and a huge fundraising haul from Republican donors. But he also tapped into the national wave of MAGA-inspired, anti-woke conservative activism that’s sweeping the GOP.
And he proved his appeal to voters by winning over demographic groups that traditionally favor Democrats, including Latinos and women. In Miami-Dade County, he became the first Republican to win the heavily populated and diverse county since Jeb Bush won it in 2002. The victory also further fuels speculation that he will run for president in 2024. He has not said whether he will, but his campaign has already begun laying the groundwork for a possible presidential bid.
3. DeSantis’s policies
DeSantis’s victory consolidated the Republican trifecta in Florida. It also boosted his profile as a GOP star with White House ambitions and put him on a collision course with Trump.
During the campaign, DeSantis courted voters by emphasizing his anti-leftist policies. He has been a frequent guest on Fox News and used the platform to lash out at Biden policies such as COVID lockdowns, vaccine requirements and face mask mandates.
His actions have polarized voters: He is lauded by the right and vilified by the left. His decisions to fly migrant flights and remove a progressive state attorney have bolstered his image as a fighter against the “woke liberal agenda,” as he frequently reminds voters.
The resounding victory in the once-swing state will boost speculation that DeSantis is eyeing a 2024 presidential run. But he seems to be enjoying his newfound clout as Florida’s governor, especially after Hurricane Ian’s devastation. DeSantis has made a strong showing among Latino voters and has earned the trust of voters in Miami-Dade County, which has voted Democratic for decades.
4. DeSantis’s future
DeSantis’s landslide victory reshaped Florida’s political landscape and cemented his status as one of the GOP’s leading figures. His victory erased the state’s purple-state image and boosted his profile as a potential 2024 Republican presidential candidate.
His success was bolstered by the fact that he won Miami-Dade County, which had not voted for a Republican in a governor’s race since 2002, as well as other counties with large minority populations.
His resounding win will fuel speculation about a possible White House run, although he has so far dodged questions about his future plans. He skirted the issue repeatedly during his only gubernatorial debate with Crist and refused to say whether he would serve a full four-year term as governor.