Democratic Governors Association, debunks report, says Ron DeSantis remains in sights

Ron DeSantis Titusville 2
The organization pushed back on a POLITICO report suggesting it will invest less in Florida.

The Democratic Governors Association lashed back at reporting the organization would not prioritize Florida’s gubernatorial race next year. The organization said it has taken down well-funded governors before, and plans to deny Gov. Ron DeSantis another term as well.

“Florida is a competitive battleground state in 2022. Gov. DeSantis is vulnerable and defeating him is a priority for the DGA,” said DGA executive director Noam Lee. “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.

“We’ve beaten GOP incumbents in tough states like Scott Walker, Pat McCrory, and Matt Bevin — and we are deploying the same strategy now in Florida. Any reports and anonymous quotes that say Florida is not in play or that the DGA is not interested are just flat wrong.”

The strongly-worded statement came after POLITICO published a story stating the national group “is starting to deprioritize the state.” The article cited two Florida Democratic consultants, including Jonathan Ducote and another source who was not named.

“The DGA is playing mostly defense this year, and that’s a monumental change,” Ducote told POLITICO.

The sources cited the high-cost of campaigns in Florida, the third most populous state in the union. A short version of the reporting led the Florida Playbook newsletter and a longer version appeared on POLITICO’s website proper.

The report came days after a demoralizing defeat for Democrats in the race for Virginia Governor and a closer-than-expected result for another gubernatorial contest in New Jersey.

But the DGA noted it has faced tough political climates and prevailed before. Walker was denied a third term as Wisconsin Governor in 2018, McCrory lost the governorship in North Carolina in 2016 and Bevin lost reelection in Kentucky in 2019.

The organization also heavily invested in Florida before, some $15 million in the last two cycles, POLITICO noted. Both of those ended in heartbreaking losses for the association, but by increasingly close margins.

DeSantis in 2018 won his first term by just 32,463 votes over Democrat Andrew Gillum out of more than 8 million cast, a margin of about 0.4%.

In 2014, Republican Gov. Rick Scott narrowly won reelection over Democrat Charlie Crist by 64,145 votes out of more than 5.6 million cast, a margin of about 1%. Crist, now a Democratic Congressman based in St. Petersburg, is one of three major Democrats running for Governor this cycle. The other candidates are Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried and Sen. Annette Taddeo, Crist’s former running mate when he lost in 2014.

Yet there are signs the state could be more challenging for Democrats to win than ever. Fried in the only Democrat to win statewide in a decade. Scott, in 2018, defeated three-term incumbent Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, albeit by a slimmer margin than even DeSantis or Scott in either of their successful runs for Governor.

Still, DGA leadership appeared taken aback by reports it might withdraw from the Sunshine State.

They also specifically slammed original language, since updated, in the POLITICO report. The article initially said the association “did not deny his group was deprioritizing Florida when asked.” The statement put out by DGA made clear defeating DeSantis “is a priority.”

Jacob Ogles

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 [email protected].


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