It’s only one poll, and it was before the Mike “Katrina Victim” Ertel of last week’s headlines reminded people of the Ron “Monkey It Up” DeSantis of last season’s campaign, but it looks like Governor DeSantis is actually more popular than most anyone would have expected two months ago. Dropped last week, a Mason-Dixon poll showed DeSantis +31 in favorability (48 fav, 17 unfavorable).
One key reason: the fact that he’s not Rick Scott. For eight years, Scott was as frustrating when it came to delivering straight answers to media as he was on policy moves. He obstructed the will of the voters when it came to medical cannabis. On environmental policy, it was too little and too late on red tide and green algae. While the economic metrics were sound (debt was cut by $10 billion or so), the great unanswered question is how much of that was Rick Scott and how much was the Obama/Trump expansion of money supply and deficit spending on the federal level.
During the 2018 campaign, there was some consternation as to why DeSantis and Scott ran their campaigns on separate tracks. Whereas the Democrats co-branded Bill Nelson and Andrew Gillum, the Republicans rarely had Scott and DeSantis share a stage. Scott’s comments on DeSantis were perfunctory. And, when I asked him last fall about how he’d avoid the “blind trust” conflicts of interest that characterized the Scott era, DeSantis declined to defend Scott’s posturing; instead, he said essentially that he wouldn’t have those issues because he doesn’t have that kind of wealth.
They both got their gigs. Many expect both Scott and DeSantis (not to mention Florida Senator Marco Rubio) to try for the presidency in 2024, with their current stations as launch pads. If any or all of them have such ambitions, it will be interesting to watch the subtext as it develops.
Rick Scott seems to have defined himself even before arriving at his new post in D.C. His last night in Tallahassee, after the DeSantises had moved into the mansion, Scott threw a party—while simultaneously trying to shoehorn cronies and homies onto various boards with last-minute appointments. One example is Carlos Beruff, who Scott seems to believe belongs on the Fish and Wildlife Commission. DeSantis called such picks “lame-duck appointments” and yanked them.
How much of this is sincere? How much is gamesmanship? Who the hell knows?
DeSantis’ orbit is populated with interesting folks. One of them, local political guru Susie Wiles, is purportedly telling Tallahassee folks that keeping Lenny Curry mayor is key to keeping Trump President. So expect a certain mayoral candidate to start thumping POTUS soon enough.
We will soon see if DeSantis is willing to play in the March election in Jacksonville, where Curry offered a strong endorsement of his “brother from another mother” in August, ahead of the GOP primary.
Curry held off on endorsing until just before a DeSantis/Adam Putnam debate in Jacksonville, and thus far the Governor has not made an official visit to town. This will be interesting to watch, given that DeSantis a) lost Duval County and b) was blamed for running a bad campaign by the former Duval GOP chair.
Shad Kahn is hosting a Feb. 6 fundraiser for Curry’s campaign account (capped at $1,000 contributions) at TIAA Bank Field. Reasonable expectation is that he brings some of the big guns in to bolster the account of his Jacksonville On The Rise political committee as well. Curry reported $2.5 million to spend between committee and campaign.
At this writing, the money race is nasty. With Curry banking millions, rival Anna Lopez Brosche was closer to $25,000. Keep in mind, however, that her political committee, filed on the state level, won’t report until Feb. 10. And Brosche, we understand, is fundraising as well. Beyond that, though, she will work to build the same type of coalition as when she ran for council president: folks who may not share any interest beyond a feeling that the status quo has been standing on their throats for too damn long.
For his part, Curry will do everything he can to press his advantage. He will flood the block. He will do what he has to do to end this in March, because incumbents don’t get any fresher during a runoff election. Unless the oppo goes deeper than the esoterica of council votes, one has to wonder what the next move is. Eventually, hits will start coming from random out-of-market political committees.
Ron DeSantis will likely come in for Curry. The Donald could drop a tweet as well. Is Anna Brosche willing to flip the script and eviscerate Trump-style Republicanism? If so, she needs to get on it. And if she trots out the “I didn’t leave the GOP, the GOP left me” line, she must also realize that she won’t be getting much from D.C. or Tallahassee if she wins. For at least a certain subset of voters, that doesn’t mean much.