Ron DeSantis celebrates wins at end of busy Legislative Session
Ron DeSantis. Image via AP.

Ron DeSantis
The Governor may have pushed the state's farther right that any other in the nation has done.

On the day he took office, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis vowed to pursue an agenda that would heal the state’s political divisions.

In an op-ed, he vowed to prioritize environmental protection, the economy and education. And he highlighted the “diverse, bipartisan group of qualified individuals” he hired for his administration.

“It is time for our state to come together,” he declared in the January 2019 piece.

On Friday, more than four years later, DeSantis is set to conclude a legislative session that establishes him as perhaps the most accomplished conservative Governor in the nation’s bitter culture wars just as he prepares to enter the 2024 presidential contest as a top rival to former President Donald Trump.

Intensifying a hard-right shift that began during the pandemic, the 44-year-old Republican Governor in recent weeks pushed the limits of divisive cultural battles over abortion, LGBTQ rights, sex education, guns, immigration and diversity. And in most cases, backed by Republican supermajorities in Florida’s legislature, he won.

DeSantis in recent weeks signed a law to ban abortion at six weeks of pregnancy and another to allow people to carry concealed guns without a permit. He expanded what critics call his “don’t say gay” law that now blocks classroom instruction about sexual orientation and gender identity for all grades. And in the coming days, he will sign a law banning diversity, equity and inclusion programs in state colleges, along with another bill that prevents students and teachers from being required to use pronouns that don’t correspond to someone’s sex.

The Governor has also used the power of his office to seize partial control of Disney World, one of his state’s largest employers, which spoke out against the “Don’t Say Gay” law.

And as the 2024 presidential contest heats up, he’s eager to celebrate his accomplishments.

“When I became Governor, the first day, sat in the office, I kind of just looked around and I thought to myself, ’I don’t know what SOB is going to succeed me in this office, but they ain’t going to have much to do because we’re getting all the meat off the bone,” he said during a Thursday news conference about fishing dates.

DeSantis’ unapologetic conservative shift, an evolution years in the making, positions him well among GOP Presidential Primary voters, who tend to be fiercely partisan. But it has sparked concerns among others, including donors, GOP officials and even some moderate Democrats, who initially welcomed DeSantis’ approach but now fear that his crusade to champion conservative culture may alienate as many people as it attracts.

“His unrelenting focus on the cultural issues more than the economic issues gets to be tiresome,” said longtime Republican donor Bobbie Kilberg. “I think people over time will want someone who does not add to the scenario of pushing people further and further and further apart.”

DeSantis is poised to launch a presidential bid as soon as next week, though allies believe that a formal announcement, which could begin with an exploratory committee, is more likely to come around the end of May. For much of the year, he has sidestepped questions about his national ambitions, insisting that he was focused on Florida’s Legislative Session.

The session is expected to formally conclude Friday evening.

DeSantis’ team is optimistic his conservative accomplishments will strengthen his appeal among primary voters who may be willing to move on from Trump.

“He’s got a lot done,” former Georgia Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, a fierce Trump critic, said of DeSantis. “Ron DeSantis is more of a conservative than Donald Trump has ever been.”

Still, would-be supporters like Duncan are concerned that DeSantis’ fight with Disney has gone too far and that he should be zeroed in on more important issues.

“He’s focusing on the wrong Disney character,” Duncan said. “Instead of picking on Mickey, you need to pick on Donald.”

Those who know DeSantis best trace his emergence as a leading voice in the nation’s cultural divisions to the pandemic.

After initially agreeing to COVID-19 shutdowns, DeSantis soon established himself as one of the GOP’s most aggressive critics of public health measures. He became a conservative hero of sorts as he promoted what he called “the free state of Florida.”

Before the pandemic, he followed through on his promise to focus on education funding and environmental protection. He dedicated billions of dollars to Everglades restoration and other water protection projects over his first term, and he continued such efforts into the early days of his second. He has also consistently pushed for and secured pay raises for teachers in the state budget.

Democrat Bob Buckhorn, the former Mayor of Tampa, said he was “pleasantly surprised” at the Governor’s first months in office. But he said his hope faded soon after the pandemic exploded in the spring of 2020.

“I think we all knew he was ambitious, but I don’t think all of us knew how far he would go and the extent to which he would go to build credibility with an audience that doesn’t represent Florida,” Buckhorn said.

DeSantis’ team rejects the notion that he has fixated on red meat policies. They note the Governor’s spending on education and the environment in addition to recent moves to cut taxes on household items such as diapers.

DeSantis’ super PAC, which already has a half dozen paid staffers on the ground in each of the first four states on the Republican presidential primary calendar, did not mention his bipartisan achievements in a statement touting DeSantis’ “incredible success.”

“Gov. DeSantis’ robust record of legislative accomplishments includes enacting a Parents Bill of Rights and standing up to draconian COVID mandates to supporting law and order and pursuing the death penalty for child rapists,” said super PAC spokesperson Erin Perrine. “Ron DeSantis will never back down from pursuing strong conservative policies.”

Indeed, as 2024 has grown closer, DeSantis has done as much or more than any other Republican Governor in America to use the levers of government to lean into cultural fights. Along the way, he embraced a new catchphrase: “Florida is where woke comes to die.”

In other legislative wins, DeSantis has made it illegal for state and local investment funds to consider companies’ environmental, social and governance stances in his fight against “woke” corporations. He also signed a bill allowing the death penalty in child rape convictions, despite a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that banned capital punishment in such cases. And he signed a bill to end a unanimity requirement in death penalty sentencing.

Another new law to harden the state’s immigration policy and add millions of dollars to his controversial migrant relocation program awaits his signature.

“It’s all red meat,” Kilberg said. “I think a Republican would have a better shot getting elected in the general election if they were less divisive and more willing to work together with people for the common good. That clearly is not his mantra.”

Still, Kilberg said she would “most likely” vote for DeSantis and help him raise money if he becomes the Republican nominee in a general election against President Joe Biden.

“I say most likely, because it would be important to me to see DeSantis soften his image, have a more caring image, have a more inclusive image,” she said. “DeSantis is not the only alternative to Trump.”


Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Associated Press


  • Liberal Lunatic

    May 5, 2023 at 7:30 am

    The finest Governor in the nation. People come here because the are tired of Democrat run States and cities. High taxes, crime, anti police policies, DA’s that won’t prosecute. People are fed up. Now to you displaced liberals that have moved here and have attempted to pollute this state with your twisted views, please go back. There are plenty of U-Haul vehicles down here that need to get back to those Democrat dumps.

    • Elliott Offen

      May 5, 2023 at 7:46 am

      👆Far right propaganda and misleading information.. even Trump said people come here for the weather and drive up prices. Report to FP as false information… whacko police state propaganda.

      • Liberal Lunatic

        May 5, 2023 at 7:56 am

        The above is a sub ape liberal terrorist. Obviously has no job and a ward of the state that contributes nothing to society.

        • Elliott Offen

          May 5, 2023 at 9:16 am

          👆 Here just like everyone else talking about how others have no job. Needs court ordered medication and inpatient psychiatric treatment before he hurts himself or someone else. Also, terrorist supporter calling others terrorists. Whacko needs jail!

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    • Jay Smif

      May 5, 2023 at 9:30 am

      He thinks he’s queen, thinks he’s above the law, orders changes to the laws so that he alone isn’t subjected to them, and is a burgeoning fascist with a totalitarian complex. He’s a dangerous joke, nothing more, but keep slobbing that whiny clown’s clown, cultist.

    • Mr. Haney

      May 6, 2023 at 4:46 am

      Another deluded conservative coward moron who likely can’t find Florida.

  • corruption and abuse of power in Florida

    May 5, 2023 at 7:37 am

    when you have a super majority GOP legislators that are propping you up and they’re pushing through legislation that’s extremely unhealthy for Florida. That’s not an accomplishment in a good way. And anybody any governor that had an ultra conservative legislator in a super majority to get any messed up bill pass

    • Dont Say FLA

      May 5, 2023 at 2:47 pm

      Agreed! Rhon working with a GOP Supermajority means Rhon has no real leadership experience. All the man has had to do is say “Hey Pot, Here’s Another Kettle”

  • Michael K

    May 5, 2023 at 7:49 am

    Yes, DeSantis has done an awful lot. Awful damage to real people, who have endured derision, spiteful hate, and mountains of lies. Human beings of all ages have been tossed as red meat to a rabid base with a thirst for violence, erasure and control of people’s lives

    Yes, DeSantis has done an awful lot, winning at any cost, regardless of the human and financial toll on our state.

    • Liberal Lunatic

      May 5, 2023 at 8:01 am

      What are you talking about? Where have all of the riots, burning of buildings, lootings, torching and destroying police cars occurred? Not here. If you miss that action please return to those Democrat Shangri La’s.

      • Elliott Offen

        May 5, 2023 at 9:18 am

        Trump lied and Ashli Babbitt died. Tried to overturn a free and fair election using lies and a mob of mentally disordered hogs.

        • Jay Smif

          May 5, 2023 at 9:31 am

          Losing Ashli Babbitt to a hero cop’s .40 caliber justice was an immediate improvement to our gene pool. I’m glad traitor Ashli is dead.

          • Dont Say FLA

            May 6, 2023 at 10:26 am

            Ashey Blabbit was 100% in the wrong, but I feel for her and her family, same as I feel for the people who perished in the fire at Waco. Cult victims are victims, be their cult leader David Koresh or Defelonious Javina Trump or Rhon DasPanties or Alive Elvis or Sasquatch etc etc etc

      • Dont Say FLA

        May 6, 2023 at 10:22 am

        The Pulse Nightclub slaughter was Trump’s and Rhon Das Panties words in action. You want more of that, support Trump or Rhon DasPanties. Just be warned, one day you’ll be the “others” and that day is whenever it’s politically expedient for Rhon DasPanties or Trump to play one set of USA people against your set of USA people.

  • Robert E Anderson

    May 5, 2023 at 6:51 pm

    How much you wanna bet the comments criticizing DeSantis are from people out of state or just moved here. Their comments are opinion and aren’t based on facts. Florida is a deep red state, if you don’t like it here, take your *** back to where you came from.

    • Elliott Offen

      May 5, 2023 at 9:24 pm

      You lose that bet. Lived here long time. Conservatives are whacko. Destroyed many lives across the globe last 20 years playing their fking games. Plus, Trump lied and Ashli Babbitt died.

    • Mr. Haney

      May 6, 2023 at 5:01 am

      Idiots love to bet. DeSantis is a moron as is anyone who might support him. Florida has become an idiot State where it used to be tolerant of people of all persuasions. Now it’s just another version of Mississippi.

      And as far as going somewhere else, you bigots can pound sand.

      • Robert E Anderson

        May 6, 2023 at 8:54 am

        You seem a little upset, your blood pressure is probably through the roof right now…not healthy….remember Florida is where “WOKE” goes to die. After his term as governor DeSantis will win the presidency and pattern the entire nation after Florida !!!

  • Robert E Anderson

    May 6, 2023 at 9:07 am

    If you read the comments of Haney and Elliott it becomes apparent that they are one and the same. One Idiot, posing as two different morons. You’ve been outed, now find a safe place to curl up.

  • Dont Say FLA

    May 6, 2023 at 10:19 am

    In order to have a win, there has to be another team playing against your team. Given Florida state government’s Supermajority GOP, maybe they could take a victory lap, but calling it a “win” is not appropriate given the lack of any real opposition. It’s like when UGA beats the Gators as of late. Sure, UGA “wins,” but was that ever in question? In my book, no legitimate competition = no win. When both teams are good, somebody wins and it means something to the fans. But when Florida dominates, meh so what. And when Georgia dominates, meh, so what. When you know in advance how it’s going to turn out, it’s not much of a “win.” And this is why Rhon DasPanties is unqualified to govern outside of Fleur D’uh where there’s Democrats and Independents and Trans people and Draq Queens and such.

  • Robert E Anderson

    May 6, 2023 at 12:11 pm

    Don’t Stay n FLA. exactly why people are moving to FLA. because we don’t allow “woke” to float and DeSantis is captain of this ship. Maybe LGBT pervs can migrate to one state where they could govern, it would have to be a small one though, since they’re such a minority.

  • Rude Eye

    May 6, 2023 at 5:53 pm

    Ron Disasterious got what he wanted, he shoved his ideologies down our throats whether we wanted it or not, changed the laws to benefit him and all but eliminated the ‘Florida’s Government -in-the-Sunshine law’ a constitutional amendment as voted in by the citizens of Florida.

    And remember, every time he says the word ‘indoctrination’ substitute it with ‘removing freedom of speech’ and it will all make sense.

  • Robert E Anderson

    May 6, 2023 at 8:51 pm

    Poor Snowflakes, even if they live in Florida, which is doubtful, no one is holding them here. Truth is, you couldn’t get them to move to a blue state if you paid the bus fair.

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Comments are closed.


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