Can Ron DeSantis Bounce Back? A Hurricane Might Actually Help – As Idalia headed towards Florida over the weekend, Governor Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency for 33 counties.
He also announced that the Florida National Guard was mobilizing 1,100 personnel to respond and provide immediate support to impacted areas in addition to 2,400 high-wheel vehicles and 12 aircraft.
He warned residents in the Sunshine State to expect to lose power but said linemen will be ready to reconnect after the storm passes.
“I signed an Executive Order issuing a state of emergency out of an abundance of caution to ensure that the Florida Division of Emergency Management can begin staging resources and Floridians have plenty of time to prepare their families for a storm next week,” DeSantis said in a statement on Saturday via Fox News. “I encourage Floridians to have a plan in place and ensure that their hurricane supply kit is stocked.”
The storm is expected to make landfall in Florida on Wednesday.
Ron DeSantis Has a Full Plate
It was just one of several issues that DeSantis is now dealing with – including receiving boos from an audience gathered at a vigil on Sunday to mark the victims of a racially motivated shooting in Jacksonville a day earlier.
The governor canceled campaign events this week due to the back-to-back crisis, and he announced he will remain in Florida this week.
He had been scheduled to appear at an event in South Carolina on Monday.
“We’re locked in on this, we’re going to get this job done,” DeSantis said and responded to questions about his planned campaign events. “I am here, I am here.”
Dropping in the Polls
Ron DeSantis is not the first governor to run for president, but he’s facing the same blowback others have had to address – namely whether he can do his current job while essentially seeking the next one.
However, it appears that this week DeSantis is all in for Florida. That could help him with voters in his home state, and perhaps show the American people that he’s able to handle multiple crises at once.
DeSantis recently dropped in the most recent Politico rankings following last week’s Republican debate between presidential hopefuls. Former President Donald Trump maintains the clear frontrunner, with 42 percent of potential voters saying they’d support Trump according to the most recent RealClearPolitics national polling average. By contrast, DeSantis, who had 29 percent support in March, has seen that more than cut in half. He now has just 14 percent.
It wasn’t that the Florida governor had a bad debate, but he was hardly a breakout star either. It was just more of the same for DeSantis, which explains why his campaign is now faltering.
Trump But NOT Trump
It has been noted by some outlets that DeSantis is essentially running with much the same message as Trump, and in a way is a Trump-lite but not Trump. That has helped DeSantis line up many of the deep-pocket donors who are looking to move on from the former president.
Yet, DeSantis is still struggling.
“DeSantis is running as the nation’s leading cultural warrior. He signed one of the toughest abortion bans in the country, cracked down on LGBTQ rights, picked a costly fight with Disney while promising to oppose wokeness,” explained Anthony Brooks, senior political reporter for WBUR and NPR. “But his campaign has struggled to take off. He’s running second among GOP presidential hopefuls, but his poll numbers are stagnant. So far, he’s unable to close that large gap against Trump. His big donors are hitting pause. He’s laid off campaign staff and his campaign is trying to reset.”
Tim Miller, writer-at-large for The Bulwalk and co-host of The Next Level podcast, told Brooks that DeSantis had a “good elevator pitch” but as DeSantis hit the campaign trail, he lost on two fronts.
“One, the more college-educated, center-right type of Republicans who were attracted to him were really turned off by these culture war fights, trying to get to Trump’s right on gay rights and such,” explained Miller. “And then, the MAGA voters were not really impressed with his electability pitch. You know, once they saw him up close under the bright lights, he didn’t seem like that strong of a campaigner.”
As a result, DeSantis is seen as Trump-lite but he is still not Trump – and the former group may see him as too focused on an issue that many Americans don’t care about; while for the latter group, DeSantis simply isn’t Trump-enough. Why should they support someone with a similar vision when they can go all in for the real deal?
Don’t Let a Crisis Go to Waste
Ron DeSantis may be able to take a page from Winston Churchill’s playbook on never letting a good crisis go to waste. That was a strategy later embraced by former Obama administration chief of staff and later mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel – and now the Florida governor may have an opportunity with Idalia.
It is a crisis he cannot afford to let go to waste.
If Ron DeSantis can help Florida weather the literal storm, it could be enough to show that he is indeed ready to lead through and after a crisis. However, if DeSantis fails this test, his campaign could be truly dead in the water.
Author Experience and Expertise
A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.
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