Watch CBS News
By CBS Miami Team
/ CBS Miami
TALLAHASSEE – Republican Florida Governor Ron DeSantis was elected to another term on Tuesday night, beating Democratic challenger Charlie Crist.
It was a decisive victory over Crist, himself a former Republican governor of the state, that will likely bolster DeSantis’ status as a GOP rising star with potential White House aspirations.
DeSantis had vastly out-fundraised Crist and performed better in polls in the lead-up to an election where he rarely mentioned his opponent by name and instead characterized the race as a fight against the “woke agenda” of liberals.
Crist, on the other hand, centered his campaign on DeSantis, framing the Republican as a bully fixated on angling toward the presidency at the expense of the everyday problems of Floridians. At the candidates’ only debate, Crist repeatedly pressed the governor to commit to serving a full second term if election. DeSantis skirted the question.
Election Day came as Florida continues to recover from Category 4 Hurricane Ian, which slammed into the state in late September and killed more than 100 people and caused widespread damage.
Politically, the storm temporarily muted much of the bitter campaign rhetoric and provided DeSantis a platform to project a unifying tone as a competent crisis manager able to set aside the culture warrior and work with rivals such as Democratic President Joe Biden on response efforts.
DeSantis’ victory serves to advance speculation of a 2024 presidential run, a question DeSantis has so far dodged as former President Donald Trump has teased a third presidential run. Trump, who credits himself for propelling DeSantis to a first term in the governor’s office, has grown frustrated with DeSantis’ refusal to rule out a 2024 run, according to people familiar with Trump’s thinking.
Crist, who served as a Republican governor of Florida from 2007 to 2011 and resigned a congressional seat to run this year, has been forced to fend off barbs about various stances held over his decades in Florida politics.
Crist’s Democratic primary challenger, Nikki Fried, frequently hammered him over his previous anti-abortion stance. Crist has pledged to protect abortion rights in Florida if elected, though the task may be difficult in a state government dominated by Republicans who recently passed a 15-week abortion ban expected to be upheld by the state Supreme Court.
At a polling station in Orlando, Jamie Feldman said he was an independent thinker with no party affiliation and was voting for both Democrats and Republicans, while declining to specify which ones.
“I wish I could just vote against inflation but it’s not quite that easy,” Feldman said.
Contractor Leo Nagy said he would be voting a straight Republican ticket, in part to try to restore conservatism in the country. “I just think the rights of parents are being taken away, especially in schools, with what they teach the children at such a young age. It’s not appropriate,” Nagy said.
DeSantis has championed measures to curb teaching on sexual orientation and gender identity in early grade school and bar curriculum based on critical race theory.
Last year, the GOP notched more registered voters in the state than Democrats for the first time in modern history, and then continued to widen the gap into November. Still, the state’s large number of voters not affiliated with any party have the ability to swing an election.
Some Democrats have admitted that their previous organizing and registration efforts in Florida had mostly centered around presidential races, and there were concerns that big donors and the national wing of the party might cede the state after recent losses and DeSantis’ growing popularity.
The CBS Miami team is a group of experienced journalists who bring you the content on CBSMiami.com.
First published on November 8, 2022 / 8:04 PM
© 2022 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.
©2022 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.