Oops: Ron DeSantis snubs Tampa Bay in storm update
Image via AP.

DeSantis boots
Did Florida's Governor just drown his chances of earning support from Tampa Bay constituents for his floundering presidential campaign?

As any Governor in their state’s time of need would do, Gov. Ron DeSantis on Sunday sent an update on the severe weather event that affected most of his state over the weekend, bringing strong winds, dumping a lot of rain and leaving many homes and streets flooded.

But his update ignored parts of the state, including one of its most populous regions and an area that saw significant damage from the storm — the Tampa Bay region.

DeSantis’ update focused on the Big Bend and the Nature Coast, noting in his email that “over 100,000 utility accounts have been restored with power, and the State Emergency Response Team stands ready to provide resources, upon request from impacted counties.”

Specifically, DeSantis described how the storm “advanced toward the Florida Big Bend and Nature Coast” and he acknowledged that it brought “widespread coastal/tidal flooding, beach erosion, heavy rainfall, and strong winds nearly statewide.”

But while he calls out Big Bend and the Nature Coast, as well as the Panhandle, the Interstate 4 corridor, the Florida East Coast and the Keys — he even drills down to specific areas such as the Suwannee River Valley and Northeast Florida, the Space Coast, Aucilla, St. Mary’s, St. Johns, Econfina and Santa Fe River watersheds — there isn’t a single mention of anywhere in the Tampa Bay region, other than to note that Florida Commerce had activated the Business Damage Assessment Survey for Pinellas, Hillsborough, Manatee and Pasco counties.

And it wasn’t just DeSantis.

Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis also sent out an email Sunday pointing specifically to the Big Bend and Nature Coast, and not the Tampa Bay area. His update might have been an even bigger snub — it included information about how to locate resources to deal with the impacts of flooding. Patronis is independently elected, but there is no doubt he is often in lockstep with the Governor and no doubt is, to at least some degree, following the Governor’s lead.

This may seem petty, but it’s an unforced error the Governor cannot afford to make as he flounders for relevance amid a struggling presidential campaign that has already seen him shift much of his focus from the state he’s supposed to be leading, to states that will cast early ballots in the GOP Presidential Primary.

Hillsborough County is home to more than 1.4 million residents, Pinellas nearly 1 million. That’s a lot of constituents to basically ignore.

And make no mistake, this is not a circumstance where the region was omitted because it was spared. Quite the contrary. Numerous areas throughout the region experienced flooding, such as Shore Acres, Snell Isle, Gulfport, Madeira Beach and areas surrounding Bayshore Blvd.

In all of those areas, many property owners are still recovering from flooding they experienced during Hurricane Idalia in late August.

The Tampa Bay Times took notice. They pointed to a Madeira Beach resident who, for the second time in just a matter of a few months, was forced to haul trash bags of waterlogged belongings to her curb. They also pointed to a Shore Acres man who has been repairing his home since it flooded during Hurricane Idalia, and flooded again this weekend.

These are real lives and they are real voters. The Times didn’t say anything about those residents’ political leanings, and they likely didn’t ask, but the fact of the matter is, there are likely hundreds, if not thousands like them who may be planning to cast a ballot in the GOP Primary.

DeSantis should know better than most how storm response can make or break a campaign. In 2022, his response to Hurricane Ian was seen as largely positive. He even received praise from President Joe Biden, his party’s political boogeyman. To some, including me, that was seen as the nail in Charlie Crist’s electoral coffin in the 2022 gubernatorial race.

Maybe not everyone will notice such a subtle snub — and there are opportunities to make it right as residents impacted by this unique winter storm recover — but the bottom line is, DeSantis could have made friends and potentially earned votes. Instead, he figuratively said, “Tampa Bay who?”

Peter Schorsch

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises Media and is the publisher of FloridaPolitics.com, INFLUENCE Magazine, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Previous to his publishing efforts, Peter was a political consultant to dozens of congressional and state campaigns, as well as several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella. Follow Peter on Twitter @PeterSchorschFL.


  • Shelby justice

    December 18, 2023 at 7:09 am

    We all know Ron is ONLY the ACTING governor, but Casey is the ‘wanna be’ governor. Were they in the state or were they in Iowa or New Hampshire during the storm when the storm hit?

    • Carol Wentzel

      December 18, 2023 at 5:19 pm

      You cañ bet there butts weren’t here in fl.

  • impeach Biden

    December 18, 2023 at 7:24 am

    This site and its writers are dedicated to discrediting and attacking our fine Governor every chance they get. I’m sure it is funded by Kalifornia libs, George Soros, etc.

    • Michael K

      December 18, 2023 at 8:45 am

      You can simply stop reading if you don’t like reportage by journalists that hold elected officials accountable and call out “alternative facts” who’s tend to be lies.

      Although I’m sure the current governor would love to force all media to serve as serve as his state propaganda arm – he’s certainly tried to stifle dissent.

      • Impeach Biden

        December 18, 2023 at 9:02 am

        Look how the national media / press corp protect incompetent Joe and his administration. That guy has had a free ride for three years. Prearranged questions, cheat sheets and teleprompters to answer and even an order on what state run propagandist is called upon.

      • Penny

        December 18, 2023 at 6:05 pm

        yes he does do that with discussion…

    • Tom

      December 18, 2023 at 9:01 am

      You guys need some new material – seriously. As for a ‘fine governor’ plenty of people, myself included, consider him to be about as much use as a third armpit. Sorry to spoil your narrative.

  • Erica

    December 18, 2023 at 7:40 am

    Interesting article highlighting the oversight in Governor DeSantis’ storm update. It’s crucial for all affected areas, including Tampa Bay, to receive timely and comprehensive information during such events. Hopefully, future updates will be more inclusive of all regions impacted.

  • authoritarian rule

    December 18, 2023 at 7:46 am

    THis is the reason Deathsantis wears boots with lifts in them. He is a small vengeful man like the. rest of the GOP.

    • Impeach Biden

      December 18, 2023 at 9:15 am

      Lots of outstanding Demos in cities like Dearborn, Minneapolis, Chicago, Atlanta, New Orleans, NYC, LAX, San Francisco, Seattle, Portland and many many others. Move there and live with those fine outstanding citizens. You will learn carjacking, smash and grab, flash mobbing, looting, etc. Truly heaven for you Demo’s.

  • Richard Russell

    December 18, 2023 at 9:22 am

    Florida Politics – are you a shill for the Democraps? “DeSantis ignored the Tampa Bay area” because he focused on the Big Bend area. The whole frigging state was subject to the storm over the weekend, but the Big Bend area was the one most affected and still recovering from Idalia. As a Southwestern Floridian, like most we are not so stupid that we don’t keep tabs when a storm is heading for Florida. We don’t need our Governor to tell us to take precautions, but maybe your poor staff at Florida Politics have your heads planted so far up your a.., that you need a Mommy to tell you be careful.

  • Richard Eginton

    December 18, 2023 at 10:50 am

    Ah…Another nattering nabob of negativism.
    A quote from Teddy Roosevelt sets the value of this article firmly in it’s place.

    “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

Comments are closed.


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