Is Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis the Future of the GOP?

Is Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis the Future of the GOP?

( – In 2020, the GOP was relatively successful at winning elections. Republicans expanded state legislatures across the country. The party significantly narrowed the Democrat’s lead in the House to give them the smallest majority in nearly a century. The Senate is evenly divided. In 2022, the prospects of both chambers flipping red are positive. However, what about the presidency in 2024?

In the wake of the 2020 election, the GOP is solidly a Trump party. However, in the future, the party can’t rely on Trump forever. At 74 years old, it’s not clear that Trump will want to run for office again. Plus, at least one Republican leader shares Trump’s policy agenda and is succeeding wildly at the moment. Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis is making a strong case that he could be the GOP’s future, and for a good reason.

DeSantis Is Battle Tested

As DeSantis entered office in 2020 after a stint serving in the US House of Representatives, the newly minted governor faced the exploding challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, he took a completely different strategy than most of his colleagues around the country.

DeSantis held off closing his state’s economy and was the first to re-open it last October. He stood his ground and insisted schools remain open. He defied the call to issue a statewide mask mandate. For that, he was called irresponsible, reckless, and dangerous.

Yet, his Democratic counterparts in New York and California face calls for impeachment or recall from voters. California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom was one of the most restrictive lockdown governors in the country. He now says he made some mistakes. It may be too late for that as it appears voters will decide later this summer or early fall if he’s going to be booted from office.

However, DeSantis is being hailed by conservatives as a model for the country in a state that is faring economically better than Democratic states and is generally fairing no worse or better than states that are locked down.

Similarities to Donald Trump?

There are similarities to Donald Trump, but there is also a real difference. DeSantis is a strong supporter of the former president and shares much of his policy agenda. Like Trump, he’s not afraid to call out the media or Democrats. In an op-ed published in the Wall Street Journal on Thursday, March 18, DeSantis called out elites in the media, public health, and government. He said they failed to rise to the occasion during COVID-19. DeSantis added that public health experts got the pandemic wrong and that it harmed America’s future.

Some say that DeSantis is not a Trump. He’s a Trump “trade-up.” Much like the former president, DeSantis is highly transactional and is all about results. However, he’s more polished and much less antagonistic. Perhaps where it really counts, DeSantis owns a richer reservoir of conservative philosophy than the former president and can articulate it more clearly. Critics also note that, unlike Trump, DeSantis appears more disciplined and strategic in his communication style.

If DeSantis continues to enjoy policy successes during the pandemic, and his state outperforms Democratic-led ones, the governor would have an incredible story to tell. As of now, he is earning the opportunity to lead the GOP into the future.

Will he fulfill his potential?

Time will tell.

Don Purdum, Independent Political Analyst

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