FEATURED PHOTO: FLORIDA GOVERNOR RON DESANTIS
Politico.com, By Kimberly Leornard, Posted September 28th 2023
Evidence is mounting that Gov. Ron DeSantis doesn’t have the king-like stature in Florida that he once enjoyed.
His ability to control all levers of government and reshape the state’s political landscape allowed him to rule in the state by setting the agenda while the rest of the Legislature and the state party went along. Lately, though, he’s getting more pushback.
College boards comprised of his appointees are rejecting presidential candidates with either links or backing by the DeSantis administration. The board that oversees many of Florida’s affordable housing programs recently placed its DeSantis-backed executive director on leave.
Then there’s the politics. Several Republicans are already floating their names for governor for a race that’s three years away. The Republican Party of Florida rescinded its loyalty pledge, at the behest of former President Donald Trump supporters and against DeSantis’ wishes.
Billionaire Ken Griffin, a Chicago-to-Miami transplant who was a DeSantis megadonor, criticized several of DeSantis’ policies on camera with CNBC. A speech by the incoming House speaker was widely interpreted as a broadside against the governor’s “conveyer belt” tactics, even though he insisted it shouldn’t be.
Interviews with nearly two dozen lobbyists, political consultants and lawmakers revealed many expect DeSantis to be relegated back to Florida as a lame-duck governor weaker than he was before, when he once seemed like a safe bet for the GOP presidential nomination.
What that means for the Legislature reasserting itself in Tallahassee is still an open question. Planning for their next session will be in full swing just as Iowa, New Hampshire and Iowa are voting. DeSantis may view the lawmaking period as an opportunity to get media attention and win over slabs of GOP primary voters in other states, but the legislature may have a different idea if Trump notches early wins.
“There’s no love lost between the Legislature and DeSantis…They are faking it. They are waiting long enough to see the king drained of all his power. It’s a slow-motion coup,” a major lobbyist in Tallahassee said.
For now the governor still has many who fear crossing him publicly, knowing that he wields the line-item budget veto pen. He also still has supporters who point to his record of success in the state.
State Rep. Alex Andrade, a Pensacola Republican who endorsed DeSantis, contended that the governor continued to enjoy strong support among legislators and said sarcastically that it was “shocking that some people in politics are fair weather actors.”
— Reported with Gary Fineout.
— WHERE’S RON? Gov. DeSantis is continuing his fundraising swing in Texas. His interview with Glenn Beck will air Saturday.
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