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Why Ron DeSantis (And Other Governors) Are Going to War on Immigration

Ron DeSantis. Image Credit: Creative Commons.
Ron DeSantis. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has become a household name. The former Yale baseball star, Navy JAG, Congressman, and Donald Trump endorsee has emerged as a GOP frontrunner in the 2024 race. Although DeSantis has not yet declared his candidacy – he is commonly understood to be angling toward the presidency.

And he’s angling effectively; DeSantis is the most popular GOP candidate not named Trump – and multiple polls have DeSantis gaining on Trump.

Ron Desantis and That Martha’s Vinyard Situation

DeSantis was highly effective at raising his national profile while dealing with state-level issues in Florida. In combating corporate wokism, in support of the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Bill, an in flouting COVID orthodoxies, DeSantis became relevant beyond the borders of his Sunshine State. Now, DeSantis is once again making national headlines – for using Florida funds to fly Venezualan immigrants to Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. The ploy is cruel – subjecting dislocated, stressed humans to more travel, turning those dislocated humans into a political prop – and politically clever. Again, DeSantis is latching onto a national issue in a way that signals to conservatives that he does not take any liberal grief. The location of DeSantis’s immigrant drop-off – Martha’s Vineyard – was also tactical; Martha’s Vineyard is basically the central hub of liberal elites on the east coast. The type of place for liberals who say they believe in open borders because “No Human Is Illegal” when it’s just about being able to hire someone to clean toilets for minimum wage.

Now, however, other governors are seizing – or creating – the opportunity to be relevant on the national stage, ala Ron DeSantis.

J.B. Pritzker Is Also Talking Immigration 

“In Illinois, Democratic Governor J.B. Pritzker issued an emergency declaration to grapple with nearly 500 immigrants bused to Chicago…mobilizing the state’s National Guard.” Natasha Korecki and Marc Caputo reported for NBC. And who bussed those 500 immigrants to Chicago? Texas Governor Greg Abbott. Pritzker called Abbott’s actions “disgusting” while also expediting housing, food and medical assistance for the newly arrived immigrants. “Pritzker repeatedly condemned Abbott, calling him and his office “wholly uncooperative.””

“The Governor of the state of Texas is choosing not to notify us when he is sending busloads of families – we don’t know how many are children or what they need before they arrive,” Pritzker tweeted. “Here in Illinois, we refuse to stoop to that man’s level. We will provide food, shelter, and healthcare for the children, women, and men that need it.” 

Abbott, for his part, “who is also positioning himself for a potential 2024 bid if former President Donald Trump doesn’t run, pioneered the relocation of migrants to blue state “sanctuary” cities and regions, noting that “those who support Biden’s immigration policies should bear some of the cost.”

“Not to be outdone, California Gov. Gavin Newsom, also a Democrat, entered the fray Wednesday, calling for the Justice Department to investigate DeSantis and Abbott for their actions,” Korecki and Caputo reported. “The way these prominent governors, at opposite ends of the political spectrum, are responding to the country’s immigration crisis has elevated their national profiles in their parties at the same time it’s boosting their positioning for potential White House runs in 2024.” 

DeSantis’s success in achieving national prominence has other governors not just following the DeSantis blueprint – but also going after DeSantis directly as an opportunity to engage in a high-profile conflict. “Newsom and Pritzker have tried to pick fights with [DeSantis] in recent months, with Pritzker going so far as to headline Florida Democrats’ annual gala in July, when he won accolades for the party faithful for taking their bete noire to task.”    

The viability of the nation’s governors for presidential office depends largely on whether Biden or Trump decides to run in 2024. If either Biden or Trump opt-out, expect the nation’s governors to compete in a mad dash, jockeying amongst themselves to achieve national prominence. 

Harrison Kass is the Senior Editor at 19FortyFive. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, he joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison holds a BA from Lake Forest College, a JD from the University of Oregon, and an MA from New York University. He lives in Oregon and listens to Dokken. Follow him on Twitter @harrison_kass.

Written By

Harrison Kass is a Senior Defense Editor at 19FortyFive. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, he joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison has degrees from Lake Forest College, the University of Oregon School of Law, and New York University’s Graduate School of Arts & Sciences. He lives in Oregon and regularly listens to Dokken.