Ron DeSantis wins landslide victory over Charlie Crist
A judge tells Ron DeSantis to dish the dirt on migrant flights.

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Four years after a recount victory brought him into office, the Republican easily won a second term.

Gov. Ron DeSantis won election to a second term in a landslide victory over Democrat Charlie Crist.

With 99.9% of all precincts reporting statewide, DeSantis and running mate Jeanette Nuñez had a major lead, with more than 59% of the vote as compared to Crist and running mate Karla Hernández’s near 40%. The nearly 20-percentage-point lead marked the largest margin of victory ever for a Republican Governor in Florida.

The margin of victory dwarfed the narrow win DeSantis secured four years ago over Democrat Andrew Gillum. Then, he won by a razor-thin 32,463-vote margin after a statewide machine recount of the votes. By comparison, DeSantis’ margin of victory in his re-election bid exceeds 1.5 million votes.

The Republican won then as an underdog, with a poll-defying victory in the General Election and a come-from-behind Republican Primary win over then-Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam.

But after his 2018 victory, DeSantis quickly garnered favor with voters by embracing broadly popular and bipartisan actions like Everglades restoration and pardoning the Groveland Four. He also kept conservatives content with a series of Florida Supreme Court appointments, and four years into his term, he significantly reshaped a court that for decades had remained the only liberal-leaning branch of Florida’s government.

In a victory speech, DeSantis said the growth was a sign people have been voting with their feet, moving to Florida to flee other states.

“The woke agenda has caused millions of Americans to leave these jurisdictions for greener pastures,” DeSantis said. “Now this great exodus of Americans, for those folks, Florida for so many of them has served as the Promised Land. We we have embraced freedom. We have maintained law and order. We have protected the rights of parents. We have respected our taxpayers and we reject woke ideology.”

The true shift in DeSantis’ political trajectory would begin in March 2020, when the first test came back positive on a patient with a coronavirus infection. A global pandemic reached Florida’s shores, and national attention immediately fell on the nation’s third-most populated state as it addressed the situation.

At first, consensus sentiment pressured DeSantis to close down beaches. DeSantis in fact did so, and ordered a lockdown of businesses statewide in April that year. But as the state began reopening faster than many other Democratic-led states, DeSantis developed a national reputation as a skeptic of COVID-19 lockdowns and began rebranding the state as the “Free State of Florida.”

It’s that reputation that served as a theme to DeSantis’ re-election efforts this year. And based on the number of Republicans who relocated to Florida since 2020, the economically focused approach to managing a public health emergency also helped to dramatically reshape the state electorate along the way.

Republican Party of Florida Chair Joe Gruters cheered the win as evidence Florida has now moved firmly into red state status.

“Florida is now officially the Republican Rock for America,” Gruters said.

“The Republican Party of Florida has made voter registration a priority over the last several years and the results are overwhelming, as registered Republicans now outnumber registered Democrats by nearly 300,000 voters. We also put together a turn-out machine at the state level, working closely with every county GOP. Tonight’s results, bolstered by strong candidates, reflect the fruit of those efforts. Further, voters know they can trust the results because Florida has been a leader in election integrity and rapid results.Governor Ron DeSantis, Attorney General Ashley Moody, CFO Jimmy Patronis and Agriculture Secretary Wilton Simpson all had impressive blowout wins today, and will head to Tallahassee with a supermajority in both the State House and State Senate. This was not a fluke. This is the result of years of efforts by the Republican Party of Florida and our candidates. Winning counties such as Duval, Miami-Dade and Pinellas puts an exclamation point on where Florida is leading the nation. What other states have turned major metro areas red?”

The past few years also turned DeSantis into a presidential contender, with many observers in the state and nation presuming he will now run for the White House in 2024. That’s something that could divide Republican figures in the state, including many loyal to another Florida resident, former President Donald Trump.

“We are the State of Freedom, home to America’s best Governor, Ron DeSantis, and best President to have ever served, President Donald Trump,” Gruters said.

Still, the laissez-faire approach to public health, combined with a zeal for right-wing culture war policies that grew with DeSantis’ profile, also gave fodder to critics.

Crist spent much of 2021 attacking DeSantis over Florida’s high death toll from the pandemic. This year, Crist critiqued the Governor over signing a 15-week abortion ban with no rape or incest exceptions, approving a parental rights law dubbed by LGBTQ advocates as the “Don’t Say Gay law,” and a reluctance to call out Nazi demonstrations appearing with disturbing frequency.

Of course, the fact that Crist now serves as the face of the Florida Democratic Party says as much about Florida’s shift in politics as DeSantis’ lurch toward right-wing politics. Crist, after all, won his first term in the Governor’s mansion as a Republican in 2006, a victory that followed successful runs for Attorney General and Education Commissioner as a GOP nominee.

For most of Crist’s political life span, whether as a Republican state Senator from Pinellas County or as a once-considered prospect to be Republican presidential candidate John McCain’s running mate, his name appeared with an “R” on the ballot.

That started to change when the moderate came out in support of Democratic President Barack Obama’s infrastructure spending in 2009. Crist famously embraced Obama at a Fort Myers rally in a show of bipartisanship that quickly thrust the Governor into disfavor with the conservative base.

When Crist decided to run in 2010 for U.S. Senate, a former state Speaker named Marco Rubio bet on an uprising in the GOP Primary. A series of straw poll losses prompted Crist to leave the Republican Party and run for Senate as an independent. Rubio eventually won the Senate seat he holds to this day.

Crist ran for Governor again in 2014, then as a Democrat, and tried to unseat Republican Gov. Rick Scott. But Crist lost by a single percentage point. Still, he built enough favor in his new political party to win a seat in Congress in 2016, defeating GOP incumbent David Jolly.

Last year, Crist announced he would again run for Governor, this time with his sights on DeSantis. That meant facing Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried in a Democratic Primary. Crist ultimately defeated her handily in an August Primary, but expended millions to secure the Democratic nomination.

Any hope national donors would jump in once a nominee became clear fizzled quickly. DeSantis amassed a 21-to-1 fundraising advantage over Crist less than a month from the General Election.

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]


21 comments

  • David in Shoreline

    November 8, 2022 at 8:09 pm

    Congratulations Governor DeSantis and thank you for fighting for Floridians! At this time it’s a 15 point margin. Crist’s performance may improve slightly. Nonetheless, I think we can all agree Governor DeSantis delivered a Red Tsunami for Florida.

    • David in Shoreline

      November 8, 2022 at 9:21 pm

      Governor DeSantis’ performance has only approved! 19% margin now. Unbelievable!

      • Joe Corsin

        November 8, 2022 at 10:27 pm

        He paid people for votes. He should be jailed.

    • eva

      November 9, 2022 at 3:40 pm

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  • Charlie Crist

    November 8, 2022 at 8:56 pm

    Election was rigged and stolen from me by far right nut Ron DeSanctimonious. Florida will burn in hell for it. Far right police state. He will not be president. He will lose by more than 8 million votes.

    • TD

      November 8, 2022 at 9:25 pm

      Oh, the salty salty tears!!! Delicious! Cope!

      Commence the unemployment of your overpaid consultants!

      • Charlie Crist

        November 8, 2022 at 10:26 pm

        Midterms went well for the fascists because Florida is full of stupid people and grifters. However, now 👹 DARK GARLAND👹 can get busy cleaning up Trump crime spree. Salty tears will be shed by many victims of Trump snake oil. The carpet bagger is in for a wild ride.

        • Rob

          November 9, 2022 at 10:37 am

          I love these delicious tears. Keep it coming.

    • Paul Sanders

      November 8, 2022 at 9:32 pm

      lol you’re acting like a jerk DJT.

    • jerry Kimbro

      November 8, 2022 at 10:28 pm

      Is this really YOU? Why is your skin so ORANGE? Are you part Ooompaloompa? What the hell is WRONG with your SKIN?

      • Charlie Crist

        November 9, 2022 at 7:10 am

        Orange like Trump? Orange Hitler? He took you people’s money in 2020 just knowing he was radioactive waste and politically impotent. Grifted The Villages to a husk!!!! Still grifting you stupid people!

  • jerry Kimbro

    November 8, 2022 at 10:26 pm

    Thanks for the liberal bias, Floria Politics. Three paragraphs about werido freak and too orange loser Charlie Crist (who hopefully will DISSAPPEAR) and next to nothing about DeSantis.

    And it was never ever called the “Just Say Gay” bill. SO You all support Groomers. NOTED.

    I was thinking about following you… but i see you are all disgusting liberal. Sad sad.

    • Charlie Crist

      November 9, 2022 at 6:59 am

      👆 This is the sort of neo nazi propaganda and hate speech that lost Trump the election in 2020, and stopped the red wave nation wide in 2022. Was more like a red ripple thanks to neanderthals. However, Florida is still a redneck terrorist state… deserves every NYC carpet bagger that DeSanctimonious has invited here.

  • Based Desantis Supporter

    November 9, 2022 at 6:06 am

    Feels good. The terminally online delusional Florida lefties needed a harsh slap in the face from reality. This is OUR state

    • Joe Corsin

      November 9, 2022 at 7:06 am

      You’ll are still under the gun of your own right wing police state. Have fun buddy! And the dregs of NYC now moving to your neighborhood courtesy of DeSanctimonious! Carpet baggers Sal, Vincent, and Luigi gonna be grifting your children and driving up home prices for eternity. Yeah your daughters last name gonna be Scipio Greaseball!!!!!!

      • Chosen People

        November 9, 2022 at 9:33 am

        Dude, like Jeffrey Epstein and his fellow happy merchants from NY haven’t been down here for the past 30 years voting D. Come on.

        • Joe Corsin

          November 9, 2022 at 11:47 am

          At least they had some gd money and class!!!

          • Chosen People

            November 9, 2022 at 3:53 pm

            Can’t spell class without ChiLd AbuSerS…suit yourself!

        • Based Desantis Supporter

          November 9, 2022 at 6:18 pm

          Kek this might be a little TOO based for this cute

          • Based Desantis Supporter

            November 9, 2022 at 6:19 pm

            Site damn phone posting

          • Charlie Crist

            November 9, 2022 at 7:29 pm

            👆 Neo nazi on meth. All yours Florida. I tried to help.

Comments are closed.


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