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Brevard GOP Chair: Ron DeSantis ‘ran a very bad campaign’

The leader of the Brevard County Republican Executive Committee faces criticism over his own harsh remarks about Gov. Ron DeSantis’ campaign.

Rick Lacey, chairman of the Brevard County REC, spoke at a recent Federated Republican Women meeting in Palm Bay and questioned the messaging strategy for the Republican’s statewide efforts.

“I’ve got to be honest,” Lacey said. “DeSantis ran a very bad campaign.”

He made the remarks when club members complained DeSantis had not been aggressive enough during the campaign season.

On an organizational level, the party chair spoke about difficulty obtaining yard signs at Brevard County headquarters.

But his primary concerns centered around messaging.

“Nobody cares that you won the Little League championship when you were 12 years old,” he said. “You have got to tell you what you’re going to do as Governor.”

That references a $4 million ad buy for the “Go To Bat” ad that chronicled DeSantis playing for the Dunedin Nationals at age 12 when the team went to the Little League World Series in 1991.

Lacey went on to suggest the campaign did not do enough to highlight Democrat Andrew Gillum’s record, including a difficult relationship between the Tallahassee Mayor and police during his administration, or that Gillum wanted a $1 billion corporate income tax.

But those were highlighted perpetually by DeSantis’ campaign and supportive organizations in debates, advertisements and robocalls.

As Lacey looks toward his re-election as county chair, the recording of his slamming DeSantis has already drawn criticism among supporters of the incoming Governor.

“I don’t think we can afford to have someone as executive committee chair who is calling the Governor a failure,” said state Rep. Randy Fine, a Palm Bay Republican.

Supporters of DeSantis say the criticism seems especially unwarranted because DeSantis won, defeating Gillum by a narrow margin but in the face of a difficult national climate for Republicans and when most polls showed Gillum ahead in the campaign’s final weeks.

Lacey for his part confirmed he’d spoken to the group but did not believe the comments were being recorded or distributed.

“I’m not going to comment until I find out who recorded me without my permission.”

Written By

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at

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