With the Florida governor’s race more than a year away, Thursday brought an early sign that national Democrats may be feeling skittish about their prospects of unseating incumbent Gov. Ron DeSantis (R).
The Democratic Governors Association has no plans to give “significant” financial help to Democrats challenging DeSantis, Politico reported Thursday, citing two Democratic consultants in the state who’d been in touch with the organization.
Florida hasn’t had a Democratic governor since 1999, and the state has voted for the Republican candidate for president in the last two election cycles.
Trashing public health regulations and playing up bogus claims about voter fraud, DeSantis has hustled to pick up the Trumpian banner, becoming a national Republican figure in the process, complete with buzz about a 2024 presidential run.
Several Democrats are jockeying for the nomination to run against him in 2022, including Rep. Charlie Crist (D-FL), the former Republican governor of the state who has since switched his party affiliation; Nikki Fried, the sitting Democratic agriculture commissioner; and State Sen. Annette Taddeo.
The DGA spent $15 million in Florida in the last two election cycles, but now it is deprioritizing the state, the consultants who spoke with Politico said.
“The DGA is playing mostly defense this year, and that’s a monumental change,” Democratic consultant Jonathan Ducote, who’s worked with the DGA, told Politico. “When I think about Florida statewide elections, the number one thing you have to ask yourself is do you have the money to communicate in a really expensive state?”
DGA’s executive director, Noam Lee, pushed back on the report in a statement to TPM.
“Florida is a competitive battleground state in 2022,” Lee said. “Gov. DeSantis is vulnerable and defeating him is a priority for the DGA. We’ve already started investing in Florida and are working with our candidates to ensure we have what it takes to take on DeSantis next fall.”
“Any reports and anonymous quotes that say Florida is not in play or that the DGA is not interested are just flat wrong,” Lee added.
Aside from Ducote, Politico did quote two unnamed sources.
One unnamed consultant who said he’d recently spoken with the DGA said “DeSantis is looking strong politically and financially, and there are states like Massachusetts, Maryland and Arizona where they see potential pickups on top of incumbent protection.”
And an unnamed DGA staffer told the publication, “We have a lot of races in 2022, and Florida requires, what, $6 to $10 million? That’s a lot.”