Testing ‘Rust Belt’ bona fides, Ron DeSantis plans Ohio trip

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The Governor will address Republicans in Summit County and Butler County April 13.

Florida’s Governor is headed to the Buckeye State in April, in the latest indication that the Legislative Session isn’t slowing down his 2024 plans.

The Akron Beacon-Journal reports Ron DeSantis is headed to Ohio to address Republicans in Summit County and Butler County April 13.

For DeSantis, this offers yet another opportunity to appeal to voters in the Rust Belt region, a place where he has proclaimed cultural affinity in recent months after not mentioning it much at all during the previous decade of his political career.

One quote from his book, “The Courage to Be Free,” has gotten renewed exposure of late.

“I was geographically raised in Tampa Bay,” DeSantis writes, “but culturally my upbringing reflected the working-class communities in western Pennsylvania and northeast Ohio — from weekly church attendance to the expectation that one would earn his keep. This made me God-fearing, hard-working and America-loving.”

During a recent appearance touting the book with the Fox News Channel’s Mark Levin, DeSantis explained how the region’s values formed him and buoyed his innate sense of conservatism.

“My father’s from western Pennsylvania, my mother’s from Northeastern Ohio. So that is, like, steel country. That is like blue-collar, salt-of-the-earth and, as you know Mark, Florida’s very eclectic. People kind of come from all over, we do have a culture and so I grew up in that culture, but really it was kind of those Rust Belt values that raised me.”

That narrative has been abetted by friendly coverage, notably an NBC News piece that emphasized his familial roots in the Mahoning Valley.

Long before DeSantis released his second book, he visited Ohio on a 2022 campaign swing on behalf of Senate candidate J.D. Vance. The event included limitations on media access and an asserted right by organizers Turning Point USA to have “access to footage … upon request” and to “know in what matter the footage will be utilized.”

The Governor played up his local ties there.

“My mother is from Youngstown and she’s here … and my father is from Aliquippa but went to Youngstown State,” DeSantis said.

While that sort of homecoming may have offered the Governor a unique opportunity to revisit cultural touchstones, his endorsement of Vance will not be reciprocated. The Hillbilly Elegy author has already endorsed Donald Trump in 2024.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


5 comments

  • Pudding Fingers DeSantis

    March 22, 2023 at 10:14 am

    Big Business won’t support this guy.
    He’s gone to war with every big employer in Florida, from Disney to the cruise ship companies for not towing the line.

    Corporate America doesn’t want to deal with another Big Government Bully in the White House.

  • Rob Desantos

    March 22, 2023 at 11:27 am

    Most Ohio Republicans are way too Trumpy to switch their allegiance to the short guy from Florida.

  • Ian

    March 22, 2023 at 7:26 pm

    My parents are from Italy, I’m from Florida. Grew up in Florida the same way you did!! Zero, neg zero integrity

  • Mark Tilham

    March 23, 2023 at 12:12 pm

    Being from Northeastern Ohio, I can confidently say that Ron DeSantis doesn’t display any of the personality characteristics — like friendliness and openness–of the region I enjoyed growing up in.

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