To hear some tell it, both Joe Biden and Donald Trump should be very afraid of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis in 2024. The guy who narrowly beat a weak opponent in 2018, with Trump’s unequivocal help, supposedly proved himself by beating a horribly underfunded ex-Republican in a low turnout race in Florida. Pardon my skepticism, but Ron DeSantis is just the latest empty suit GOP Governor we’ll be talking about in a trivia game in ten years. He’s a joke.
There is a portion of the Republican primary electorate that wants to nominate a MAGA Republican without Trump’s baggage. They’re fine with the xenophobia and ignorance, they just think it should be someone not named Trump. For them, Ron DeSantis is the shiny object. He’s a Florida Governor, so they assume he’ll keep Florida safely red while being stronger in other Sun Belt swing states. He bans books, rails against any talk of diversity, preaches isolation politics, and generally satisfies their fetish for “owning the libs.” He’s Trump without Trump, or as we would say at a South Philly cheesesteak establishment, “wiz witout.”
DeSantis also meets the catnip requirement for the DC GOP consultant class too. He’s a Governor. Like Jeb, Kasich, Romney, Pawlenty, Perry, Huckabee, Jindal, Huntsman, or currently Haley is. Everyone of them were underwhelming, even borderline terrible candidates. They all lost. In the last 50 years only two GOP Governors (Reagan and Dubya) won the White House, but yet the DC GOP class thinks an extensive, conservative executive policy record is attractive to the public. Reality suggests the Scott Walkers of the world have little to no appeal.
Little Ronnie DeSantis is a 5-foot-nothing Napoleon Wannabe. He’s Trump with none of the sizzle, or as I call him, Trump Zero. He got elected because the Democrats weren’t smart enough to nominate Gwen Graham, and basically re-elected by default. He’s an election denier, a book banner, rails against “woke” policy, and would be fine surrendering Eastern Europe to Putin, but he lacks Trump’s celebrity and off-the-cuff name calling ability that his crowds love. The guy is an egomaniac being fulfilled by finally being “important” for the first time in his life. I’m not a Trump guy, but DeSantis is the 1979 Pinto/Welfare version of Trump, his political skills laughable next to Dubya or Reagan. This guy can’t turn out the GOP base like Trump. Biden will beat him like a drum, if the GOP is crazy enough to nominate him.
Activists and engaged primary voters often are looking for someone that fills the voids their last losing nominee lacked. Republicans engaging in the polls right now think DeSantis can be their “America First” savior, without the baggage. Kind of like Elizabeth Warren was a smart woman like Hillary Clinton, but was easier for progressive voters to accept, so she was going to be 2020’s “silver bullet” to Trump. She ended up finishing 4th with Black voters in Massachusetts in her home state primary. Warren had little appeal to the broader primary electorate, let alone general election voters. Ron DeSantis is the 2024 GOP Primary’s version of Warren 2020. I don’t see what early state he wins to even get started, he just sounds like a good idea in the abstract to activists who don’t want to take an introspective look at why they lost last time. Mike Pence with Iowa or Chris Christie with New Hampshire have a better shot than this guy.
Ron DeSantis isn’t scary to Democrats or even Trump in 2024. The only people who should be afraid of him are people living in Florida under this maniac.