Florida Gov. Ron Desantis Concludes Legislative Session!
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis pledged to pursue a political reconciliation agenda on the day he entered office. He promised to put the environment, the economy, and education first in an opinion piece. He made a point of the “diverse, bipartisan group of qualified individuals” he brought into his administration.
He stated in the January 2019 piece that “it is time for our state to come together.” More than four years later, on Friday, DeSantis concluded a legislative session that solidified his position as one of the nation’s most tenacious conservative governors.
This comes as he gears up to run against former President Donald Trump for the presidency in 2024. The 44-year-old Republican governor has pushed the boundaries of volatile cultural conflicts over abortion, LGBTQ rights, s*x education, guns, immigration, and diversity in recent weeks, intensifying his hard-right tilt that started during the outbreak.
He was supported by Republican supermajorities in Florida’s Legislature in the majority of his victories. DeSantis recently signed two laws: one to outlaw abortion after six weeks of pregnancy and the other to permit open carry of concealed weapons.
He expanded the “Don’t Say Gay” regulation, which critics claim forbids all grades from learning about gender identity and se*ual orientation in the classroom. Additionally, he will sign legislation prohibiting diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives in state universities in the coming days.
He will also sign legislation that forbids requiring students and teachers to use pronouns that don’t match a person’s s*x. One of the biggest employers in his state and a vocal opponent of the “Don’t Say Gay” law, Disney World, has been partially taken over by the governor using his authority in that capacity.
He’s keen to tout his successes as the presidential race in 2024 heats up. “When I became governor, the first day, sat in the office, I kind of just looked around and I thought to myself, ’I don’t know what SOB is going to succeed me in this office. Still, they ain’t going to have much to do because we’re getting all the meat off the bone,” he said as he sat in the office on his first day as governor.
RON DESANTIS: “When I became governor, the first day, sat in the office, I kinda just looked around, and thought to myself – I don’t know what SOB is gonna succeed me in this office, but they ain’t gonna have much to do.” pic.twitter.com/z3mibe3Vat
— Florida’s Voice (@FLVoiceNews) May 4, 2023
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DeSantis is ideally positioned among GOP presidential primary voters, who tend to be highly partisan, thanks to his unapologetically conservative transformation, a metamorphosis that has taken years to develop. Others, including funders, GOP leaders, and even some moderate Democrats, have expressed concern.
While they initially praised DeSantis’ strategy, they now worry that his crusade to promote conservative culture may turn off as many people as it attracts. “His unrelenting focus on the cultural issues more than the economic issues gets to be tiresome,” said longtime Republican donor Bobbie Kilberg.
“I think people over time will want someone who does not add to the scenario of pushing people further apart.” Although associates believe a formal announcement, which might start with an exploratory committee, is more likely to occur toward the end of May, DeSantis is prepared to announce his candidacy for president as early as next week.
He has avoided inquiries about his plans for the country for most of the year by saying that he is concentrating on Florida’s legislative session.
The DeSantis campaign is confident that DeSantis’ achievements on the right will increase his appeal to primary voters who could be willing to abandon Trump.
“He’s got a lot done,” former Georgia Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, a fierce Trump critic, said of DeSantis. “Ron DeSantis is more of a conservative than Donald Trump has ever been.”
Nevertheless, potential backers like Duncan worry that DeSantis’ battle with Disney has gone too far and that he ought to focus on more crucial matters.
He’s focusing on the wrong Disney character,” Duncan said. “Instead of picking on Mickey, you need to pick on Donald.”Those who are most familiar with DeSantis attribute his rise to prominence as a key voice in the country’s cultural conflicts to the pandemic.
DeSantis, who initially supported COVID-19 shutdowns, quickly rose to become one of the GOP’s most vociferous opponents of public health initiatives. He became a conservative hero in some ways as he advocated what he dubbed “the free state of Florida.”
He kept his vow to prioritize money for education and environmental conservation before the outbreak. Over the course of his first term, he committed billions of dollars to Everglades restoration and other water protection initiatives, and he carried on with these efforts in the early months of his second.
He has repeatedly advocated for and won teacher wage increases in the state budget. Former Tampa mayor and Democrat Bob Buckhorn said the governor’s first few months in office had “pleasantly surprised” him. However, he claimed that his optimism waned soon after the pandemic broke out in the spring of 2020.
“I think we all knew he was ambitious, but I don’t think all of us knew how far he would go and the extent to which he would go to build credibility with an audience that doesn’t represent Florida,” Buckhorn said.
His campaign denies the claim that DeSantis is obsessive with red meat laws. They mention the governor’s investments in environmental protection and education and recent initiatives to lower taxes on domestic goods like diapers.
In a statement praising DeSantis’ “incredible success,” his super PAC, which now has six paid staffers on the ground in each of the first four states on the Republican presidential primary calendar, failed to highlight his bipartisan accomplishments.
“Gov. DeSantis’ robust record of legislative accomplishments includes enacting a Parents Bill of Rights and standing up to draconian COVID mandates to supporting law and order and pursuing the de@th penalty for child rapists,” said Erin Perrine, a spokeswoman for the super PAC.
“Ron DeSantis won’t ever give up on advocating for strong conservative policies.”DeSantis has used government power to engage in cultural conflicts more than any other Republican governor in America as 2024 has drawn near. He adopted a new motto along the way: “Florida is where woke comes to die.”
In his campaign against “woke” firms, DeSantis has also won legislative victories that forbid state and local investment funds from considering a company’s environmental, social, or governance practices. In addition, he approved a law that overturned a rule by the U.S. Supreme Court that prohibited the de@th penalty in cases of child r@pe.
Additionally, he approved a bill that abolished the unanimous vote requirement for de@th sentences. His signature is required on yet another new law that will impose stricter immigration laws on the state and add millions of dollars to his divisive migrant relocation program.
“It’s all red meat,” Kilberg said. “I think a Republican would have a better shot getting elected in the general election if they were less divisive and more willing to work together with people for the common good. That clearly is not his mantra.”
Even so, Kilberg declared that if DeSantis were to win the Republican nomination for the main election against Vice President Joe Biden, she would “most likely” support him and assist him in raising funds.
“I say most likely, because it would be important to me to see DeSantis soften his image, have a more caring image, have a more inclusive image,” she added. “DeSantis is not the only alternative to Trump.”
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