If you haven’t noticed, Florida’s Republican Governor Ron DeSantis has become quite popular over the last couple of years. Due to his anti-lockdown stance during the COVID-19 pandemic, strong defense of schools and students on everything from gender identity to critical race theory, and his willingness to take on the White House on a number of important issues, many Republicans are all too proud to call him one of their own.
Some, in fact, are tying themselves to him despite a lack of endorsements or even any real connection in some cases.
As the upcoming midterm elections and several other races heat up, Republicans everywhere are itching for a win. After a few years of all Democrat leadership, the nation has grown tired of tyranny and is ready for change. And Republican candidates are eager to help them attain that goal.
And apparently, how they get to that point is by making sure that the people know whether they are tied to nationally known leaders like DeSantis and former President Donald Trump or not.
Take Republican state Representative Anthony Sabatini of Florida, for example.
Sabatini mentioned the state’s popular governor during a recent congressional debate held during the Republican Party of Florida’s summer conference in Tampa. He said, “The country is running out of time, and we need people with (DeSantis’) philosophy in DC.”
In addition, Sabatini has referred to DeSantis as part of his campaign messaging. For example, in a recently sent out mailer, a large picture of DeSantis is included with the words, “Sabatini has been the most trusted ally of the Governor DeSantis agenda.”
And he’s far from the only GOP candidate hoping his ties to DeSantis will get him further through the door of success.
Laurel Lee, who is running for a newly created congressional seat in the Tampa Bay area, has also pointed to her connections with DeSantis as a large part of her official campaign. Her first TV ad was chucked full of images of the governor and phrases like, “For Congress, there’s just one candidate trusted by Gov. DeSantis to secure our elections: Laurel Lee.
To be clear, Lee has more DeSantis clout than most, as she was his secretary of state for some time. As she says, “It’s part of everyone’s pitch to voters, but in my case, it isn’t fiction.”
As Republican consultant James Blair recently noted, “Republican primary voters overwhelmingly approve of both President Trump and Gov. DeSantis and it certainly is important whether they are aligned with them. That is a meaningful question the voters need answered.”
And he’s not wrong.
People everywhere are touting the successes of DeSantis and praising him for them. And if they can tie themselves to him in the hope of getting a bigger, more influential seat, they will do it.
But in some cases, doing so is a bit inappropriate.
DeSantis’ campaign has even had to step in and put a stop to a few name-checks in his direction.
Just last week, a cease-and-desist letter was sent from DeSantis’ lawyer to the head of a political committee supporting a candidate for a Miami-Dade school board. The committee had sent out a mailer with an image of DeSantis with the candidate, Marta Perez, giving the impression that DeSantis endorsed her.
But he hasn’t. In fact, DeSantis hasn’t really given out any endorsements, either to congressional candidates or down-ballot race runners this year. Additionally, Perez’s opponent, Monica Colucci, is one that DeSantis actually did endorse previously.
In a northeast Florida congressional district, another candidate sent out fundraising emails that implied donations would be given to the candidate, Erick Aguilar, as well as other GOP politicians like DeSantis. An online fundraising platform known as WinRed noted that these emails were “misleading,” so Aguilar was suspended from the site.
Naturally, ties to DeSantis have the opposite effect for running Democrats.
For example, Jared Moskowitz, a candidate vying for outgoing Representative Ted Deutch’s seat, had had no small number of attacks simply because he once worked under DeSantis as the state’s emergency management chief when the COVID-19 pandemic first began.
To put it quite plainly, DeSantis has become somewhat of a kingmaker for Republicans, especially in Florida. And as his popularity grows, I don’t imagine that will change any time soo