It appears Gov. Ron DeSantis isn’t just endorsing School Board candidates, he’s actively supporting them.
Mailers paid for by his political committee have started showing up promoting his preferred choices for local boards.
In Sarasota, a mailer arrived to voters that included individual pictures of the School Board member Bridget Ziegler, as well as School Board candidates Tim Enos and Robyn Marinelli. On the other side of the mailer is a picture of DeSantis with First Lady Casey DeSantis and the couple’s three children. The photo sits beside a stock image of a chalkboard with script type identifying the politicians by name and making clear they were “School Board candidates endorsed by Ron DeSantis.”
Ziegler embraced the support and help as she seeks a third term on the Sarasota County School Board.
“I am incredibly grateful and thrilled that Governor DeSantis — the most popular and influential governor in the United States — is weighing in and shining a light on local school board elections because he understands the impact they have on the quality of education, Florida’s teachers, parental rights and Florida’s students,” Ziegler said.
“People overwhelmingly support Governor DeSantis’ Pro Student, Pro Parent Education Agenda, and the need to be laser focused on getting us back to focusing on educating our children.”
Of course, the feedback shows the mailers from the political committee — which has supported DeSantis’ state political ambitions since his successful 2018 campaign for Governor — promote the Governor as well as he seeks re-election. But rather than bolster DeSantis directly, it talks up his agenda through the candidate he supports.
One side of the mailers reads a list of priorities: “Keep schools open; Stop indoctrination; Promote civics and workforce education; Reject forced masking; Protect parents’ rights.” There’s also a QR code that, if scanned, leads to the Governor’s re-election website, specifically a page outlining his education priorities.
Mailers were directed at voters in specific counties. For example, voters in Lee County received a similar mailer promoting Sam Fisher, a candidate for School Board in District 1.
“Having the support of Governor DeSantis is an immense honor,” Fisher said. “I am truly grateful to have his support and am dedicated to working hard to empower parents and provide our children with the best education possible.”
Additionally, Facebook digital ads started running this weekend targeted to voters in particular counties supporting endorsed School Board candidates.
The flexing of DeSantis’ muscles seems especially notable considering School Board races across the state are nonpartisan and will appear on the Aug. 23 ballot, with many decided there. As DeSantis faces no Republican Primary opposition to his re-election campaign, his name won’t appear on the August ballot anywhere in the state.
That means the political committee will burn through likely thousands of dollars on mailers targeted to voters in individual counties promoting other candidates in an election where DeSantis isn’t running. It’s unclear exactly what the mailers each cost but Friends of Ron DeSantis dropped $132,824 on postage with Spectrum Monthly on July 28.
But the cost likely means little as the committee sits on nearly $125 million in cash on hand as of July 29.
The committee in the last week of July also issued $1,000 contributions to campaigns for each of the School Board candidates DeSantis has endorsed this year.