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.