Joe Henderson: Ron DeSantis’ unchecked hubris on display again
Ron DeSantis.

ron desantis mask
Is DeSantis' ego opening the door for Democrats in 2022?

Seniors who live in Manatee County’s Lakewood Ranch community will receive 3,000 additional doses of the Moderna vaccine to protect against COVID-19. Good for them.

Naturally, Gov. Ron DeSantis went there Wednesday to announce the deal. But he should have had an answer ready because reporters were certain to ask why two wealthy ZIP codes got the vaccine before less-affluent parts of the county.

If he did have that ready answer, I doubt he would have said, well, this.

“If Manatee County doesn’t like us doing this, we are totally fine doing this in counties that want it,” DeSantis said. “Most people, I think, will want it. There are going to be folks who complain about getting more vaccine. But I’ll tell you what, I wouldn’t be complaining.”

That prompted this Twitter retort by Ted Bridis, a former editor with the Associated Press investigative team. He currently teaches investigative reporting at the University of Florida.

“Unforced error?” Bridis asked.

I agree, but would take it a step further. It’s DeSantis’ unchecked hubris and his “I’m in charge, you’re not” style of governing.

That plays well in locations like Mar-a-Lago perhaps, but not so well in a 50-50 state. If DeSantis fails to win reelection in 2022, the first line of his political obituary may focus on his arrogance.

Democrats are elbowing each other for position to challenge DeSantis, and he just gave them more material to use against him.

However, as we have seen, no one goes broke betting against Democrats in statewide races here. That brings me to another point.

An involuntary shiver of fear should have gone down the back of every blue-thinking voter in the state when Charlie Crist confirmed the thought of running for Governor has crossed his mind.

“But if you ask me, have some people suggested that I should contemplate potentially running for Governor next year? Yes, they have. While it doesn’t get much of my attention in my brain right now, it is something that I would be open to,” he told Jim DeFede on “Facing South Florida” on CBS Local in Miami.

Crist later told MSNBC that he is “open” to the idea.

You could almost hear the laughter coming from the Governor’s Mansion in Tallahassee.

The last thing Florida Democrats should do is look to the past to combat a present-day political landscape. Crist is a genial man and likable as all get out. He also would be crushed like pebbles under a steamroller against DeSantis.

Of course, it may not get that far.

In a hypothetical primary race, I don’t think Crist would beat Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, who has all but announced her intention to run. He might finish third behind Fried and U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy of Winter Park if she gets into the race, as appears possible.

But Crist’s presence on the campaign trail would attract attention away from the stronger candidates while DeSantis kept raking in money, waiting to roll his juggernaut.

Fried has repeatedly proven she knows how to get under DeSantis’ skin. She showed it again in a video attacking his handling of COVID-19.

“This has been so much harder than it had to be and we know why — blind allegiance to an insurrectionist,” she said.

That was before the Lakewood Ranch dustup. She had a rapid response for that, too.

“There is no reason that Governor DeSantis should be rationing vaccines based on political influence. This is troubling and potentially illegal,” she said. “Vaccines should be distributed to counties based on need, capacity, and science.”

She accused DeSantis of using vaccines as a “political tool.”

DeSantis opened that door with his in-your-face answer.

A story that might have gotten a few paragraphs beyond Manatee County suddenly got a big headline because of how the Governor answered.

I guess we know him well enough by now, though, to understand how he operates. When he took the oath of office to govern a divided state, DeSantis should have known he was going to get a lot of criticism. It goes with the turf.

DeSantis seems to act like he should be immune to that.

If he really believes that, he is wrong.

Joe Henderson

I have a 45-year career in newspapers, including nearly 42 years at The Tampa Tribune. Florida is wacky, wonderful, unpredictable and a national force. It's a treat to have a front-row seat for it all.


11 comments

  • Ron Ogden

    February 17, 2021 at 7:41 pm

    Nonsense. First of all, he isn’t going to lose in 2022, and second, he is acutely correct. There are lots of places that want the vaccine, and this place was one of them. What was the difference? Oh. “Wealthy” is what the difference was. Tell me, how do you justify the attitude that people who are wealthy ought not to be vaccinated, or ought to wait until Joe Henderson thinks it is there turn? That is the arrogance on display here. Trouble is, journalists now that governors have to run every four years. How often to journalists have to run? How often? Never, because their supply of courage is only sufficient to prop them up behind a computer in some anonymous home office and criticize, but never enough to actually risk defeat by the voters themselves. B. f-ing S.

    Reply

  • bob

    February 17, 2021 at 7:57 pm

    Democrats have shown the Venezuelan and Cuban communities that they will force them out of business and allow rioters to ransack their homes in exchange for political points. I think there is more room to the right that Florida might be willing to go. Be careful, dems.

    Reply

  • Nikki Fried is a joke

    February 17, 2021 at 9:18 pm

    DeSantis is doing a great job for Florida and will be re-elected easily. It is driving the Democrats crazy. So, they will spend the next 2 years trying to take him down with the help of hackers like you, Joe. Fried is a joke, never accomplished anything, but she is about the best that Democrats have in Florida. Better make sure she’s not into drugs or 3 ways like your last candidate was. Or maybe you want to bring Gillum back… ?

    Reply

  • Sonja Fitch

    February 18, 2021 at 5:02 am

    Duffus Desantis is willingly slaughtering Floridians!!!!! Duffus Desantis tries to bully but hims so pathetic hims laughed at! Enjoying the pathetic behaviors “the former guy” and loser used . Vote Democrat up and down ballot for the elections in 2022!

    Reply

  • trump lost

    February 18, 2021 at 7:43 am

    Arrogance; the quintessence of the trumplican party.

    Reply

  • AJ

    February 18, 2021 at 7:56 am

    Any opinion that omits the key statement DeSantis made explaining the choice of zip codes is worthless.

    Reply

  • Ocean Joe

    February 18, 2021 at 8:11 am

    He may turn into a human pinata showering reporters with something other than candy every time anybody dares to question him, but let’s remember he is so much better than Scott, who carefully guarded his public comments and really didn’t answer questions at all, he simply spouted canned statements. He (Scott) also left us with Florida’s worst environmental disaster by gutting the WMDs, and saddled us with a disastrous unemployment compensation system designed not to pay. DeSantis got off to a pretty good start. He pardoned some folks long ago wrongfully and racially convicted, he turned in a different direction on the environment.
    As for covid vaccine distribution, the wealthy always come first. That’s how the world works.
    If you are in steerage class, you get the vaccine lifeboat last. Nobody should be surprised.

    His combat with the press makes for good stories, and a guaranteed spot on Fox news. Time will tell whether clinging to the flotsam of the Trumptanic will pay off.

    Reply

  • Melissa Surratt

    February 18, 2021 at 11:23 am

    Hubris? I’ll take DeSantis over any other governor, especially Cuomo.

    Reply

  • Ron Nowviskie

    February 18, 2021 at 12:25 pm

    Give me a break! Unchecked hubris! You can give me Newsom, you can give me Cuomo, you can give me Northam, you can give me Whitmer, you can give me Pritzer, you can give me Kemp, you can give me Brown. Hell, you can almost give me Gillum. Thank you very much, but I’ll take DeSantis any day.

    Reply

  • Steven

    February 18, 2021 at 1:44 pm

    50/50 State? 1 Republican Governor,2 Republican Senators, 17 of 26 US Representatives are Republican.

    Reply

  • Tom

    February 18, 2021 at 2:32 pm

    Coming up to 30,000 Floridians dead from Covid 19 under the governorship of DeSantis, aka Donald Lite. See above for excuses.

    Reply

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