Former Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum made some news earlier this year when he announced the launch of a new voter registration effort dubbed “Forward Florida.” The purpose of the drive is to attract more voters to the ballot box in 2020 with the hopes of turning Florida blue and ultimately defeating President Donald Trump.
Let’s forget for a moment that some may argue that Gillum could not be a more flawed spokesman to lead such an initiative. The ex-Mayor, after all, is less than a year removed from a difficult election defeat and mere months removed from a state commission panel finding “probable cause” that he violated Florida ethics law.
Instead, let’s consider whether the slogan “Forward Florida” would be more apt to describe the current direction of the Sunshine State under the guidance and leadership of Gov. Ron DeSantis. Don’t just take my word for it.
A statewide survey conducted last week by St. Pete Polls revealed that Gov. DeSantis maintains the highest approval rating (58 percent) for a Florida governor in 10 years. Even more encouraging is the number of Independents (56 percent) who give the governor’s brief tenure in office a resounding thumbs up. And this poll was taken before the governor received strong reviews from statewide media outlets for his steadfast leadership in the face of Hurricane Dorian. In an era of hyper-partisanship, these figures are not only eye-popping but a harbinger of good things to come moving “Forward.”
The reasons for such optimism are simple.
For starters, Florida’s economy is surging under the low-tax, less-regulation platform of a Gov. DeSantis. A recent report by the University of Central Florida’s Institute for Economic Forecasting projects Florida’s economic growth will more than double over the next three decades.
And when it comes to the environment, we would be hard-pressed to find a governor of any party who has placed a higher priority on improving water quality and combating toxic algae. In fact, the governor signed the largest environmental budget in Florida’s history this past legislative session with $417 million going to Everglades Restoration and another $25 million directed toward red tide research.
That’s why, as chairman of the Republican Party of Florida, I will be traveling the state in the coming months to make sure every Floridian is aware of the progress that has and will continue to be made across our great state. I will also be meeting and speaking with GOP chairs stretching across all 67 counties because it is their grit and determination at the grassroots level that will ultimately make the difference come Election Day.
So Mr. Gillum, by all means, register as many new voters as possible for 2020. Because our party and state have a story to tell. And all signs point “Forward.”
Florida Sen. Joe Gruters is chairman of the Republican Party of Florida.