The Corner

Politics & Policy

An Unintentional Politico Love Note to Ron DeSantis

Then-Republican candidate for Florida governor Ron DeSantis holds a rally in Orlando, Fla., November 5, 2018. (Carlo Allegri/Reuters)

Gary Fineout of Politico tries his best to make Ron DeSantis sound scary, but ends up just illustrating how dramatically his leadership differs from that of Joe Biden, who has such a weak grip on his own Congressional caucus that he was reduced this week to intemperately comparing them to Jefferson Davis, Bull Connor, and George Wallace, and then pretending he didn’t mean to. The Florida governor, by contrast:

Gov. Ron DeSantis has become arguably the most powerful governor in Florida’s history…With one year left in his first term in office, DeSantis’ consolidation of power has become clear: Democrats, who are in the minority, are unable to stop him. And Republicans in the Florida Legislature are enthusiastically carrying out his wishes or are unwilling to buck him. “He’s become the 1,100-pound gorilla in state government,” said Tom Lee, a Republican and former Senate president who dealt with four different governors during the 18 years he was in the Legislature. Lee’s wife is Secretary of State Laurel Lee, a DeSantis appointee. “Gov. DeSantis is extremely popular relative to most of his predecessors. With that goes a tremendous amount of power.” One current Republican legislator granted anonymity to speak about the governor offered a more blunt assessment: “They are not going to embarrass Ron DeSantis. Ron DeSantis is essentially the speaker of the House, the president of the Senate and the chief justice of the Supreme Court right now.”…

Some longtime Capitol veterans and insiders say that many GOP legislators have little inclination to resist or cross DeSantis because he will cut off communication. “There are no second chances,” said one former legislator, who was granted anonymity to speak freely about the governor. “It’s well known you can’t go against him. If you cross him once, you’re dead.”

Even Democrats are reduced to complaining that DeSantis gets his way because…the voters like him.

State Rep. Anna Eskamani, a Democrat from Orlando, said DeSantis is too popular with rank-and-file Republican voters for Republican legislators to challenge his actions. “In addition to his veto pen, Republican lawmakers see him as appealing to their base, so if they question him they’re questioning the base which would hurt them on the campaign trail,” Eskamani said. “So not only do they consent to his extreme agenda but some try to appeal to it by filing their own bills grounded in the culture wars.”

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