Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis has been elected to another term, having defeated his Democratic opponent, former Governor Charlie Crist, by a double-digit margin on Tuesday in the US midterm elections.
He is the first Republican in two decades to break the so-called ‘blue firewall’ of Democratic support in Miami, and his decisive victory may set the stage for a presidential run.
After the results came in, DeSantis thanked cheering supporters at the Tampa Convention Center for giving him a landslide and what he called a rewriting of the political map.
“Thank you for honoring us for a win for the ages,” he said in his victory speech.
DeSantis defeated Crist 59% to 40% during the gubernatorial election on Tuesday. Crist secured the majority of votes in only a handful of counties in the Sunshine State, such as Broward and Orange. DeSantis outperformed what polls had predicted ahead of election day, though the incumbent’s lead had been growing in the run-up to the voting.
In the traditionally Democratic Miami-Dade County, 55% of voters supported a new term for the governor, with some 44% opting for Crist. The last Republican to win the county was Jeb Bush in 2002, who that same year also set the previous record for the widest GOP victory margin in a Florida gubernatorial race.
Florida is famously one of the key swing states in the US, voting twice for Barack Obama and then twice for Donald Trump during the four previous presidential races. DeSantis took over the governor’s mansion in 2018 after a razor-thin win against Andrew Gillum. His getting the GOP nomination during the party’s primary came as a surprise to many and happened after an endorsement from then-President Trump.
While in office, DeSantis bolstered his popularity by his handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, when he often flouted the federal government’s recommendations on restrictive measures, such as mask mandates, and maintained a business-friendly approach.
DeSantis entered the 2022 gubernatorial race with a number of advantages on top of his status as an incumbent. More Republican voters are registered in Florida than Democrats for the first time in the state’s political history, with the 320,000 difference serving as wind in the governor’s sails. He also outraised Crist seven to one, filling his war chest with nearly $206 million.
Observers say DeSantis’ win, which Politico described as “epic in its scope,” will further boost his national profile and increase the likelihood that he will seek the Republican nomination for the 2024 presidential election. Trump is believed to be the party’s primary candidate, but the Florida governor has long been perceived as a viable challenger to the former president.
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