Did Gov. DeSantis just snub Jimmy Buffett in the Keys?

The Governor discussed lobster season and artificial reefs, but not the late Coral Reefer.

Did Gov. Ron DeSantis take U.S. 1 through Marathon and leave without renaming it for Jimmy Buffett?

DeSantis held a 35-minute press conference during a rare visit to the Keys. He talked up efforts to restore Florida’s coral reefs, but failed to mention the late Coral Reefer. That’s not so unusual, except that a bill (HB 91) to rename State Road A1A as “Jimmy Buffett Memorial Highway” just reached the Governor’s desk.

Buffett had been a notable Democratic political donor and promoter, but the legislation to rename one of Florida’s most iconic roadways after him was among the most popular measures considered by lawmakers this Session, the first since Buffett’s death last year. The legislation passed with unanimous support in the House and Senate.

The stage appeared set, quite literally, for a ceremonial signing of the Buffett highway bill. In attendance was Rep. Jim Mooney, a Key West Republican who co-introduced the legislation.

A trip from the Florida Keys/Marathon International Airport to the Dockside Boot Key Harbor, where DeSantis’ press conference was held, would require driving on nearly two miles of U.S. 1.

And the Governor spoke from a bar stage with music iconography in the background including two guitars, one that looked a great deal like one of Buffett’s own acoustics, conspicuously placed behind the podium.

So why not hold a ceremonial signing in the Conch Republic?

DeSantis’ Office certainly has done nothing to express disapproval of the bill, regardless of the failure to even mention the musical icon.

And for the record, after Buffett died, DeSantis ordered flags to fly half-staff at the State Capital and at the Monroe County Courthouse and Key West City Hall. The order noted areas where DeSantis and Buffett, despite sitting at different ends of the political spectrum, shared priorities, so more coral than reefer.

“A lifelong conservationist, Buffett spearheaded efforts to protect the manatee, Florida’s State Marine Mammal, through the Save the Manatee License Plate. Buffett’s appreciation for Florida’s landmark Everglades was reinforced through philanthropic efforts and song,” a public memo from his office stated.

It also playfully encouraged Floridians to commemorate Buffett’s life “by raising their margarita glass and enjoying a cheeseburger here in paradise.”

Why the musical instruments surrounding DeSantis on stage?

Simone Mullis, owner of the Dockside Boot Key Harbor, said her business was only contacted a couple days ago about hosting the press conference. The business has never hosted a Governor’s event in the past.

DeSantis ended up on the same stage where musicians perform for patrons regularly. The guitars belonged to a friend of Mullis scheduled to perform there later the same day.

She had been told DeSantis would discuss a mini-season for lobster open only to Florida residents. The two-day event takes place July 24 and 25, and DeSantis indeed mentioned that, as well as an ongoing lionfish season and upcoming python hunt in the Everglades.

But why not sign the Buffett bill? Had it arrived on his desk too late to see before his trip?

DeSantis’ Office did not respond to requests for comment on the bill, instead pointing to a media website where any news on HB 91’s fate will first appear. Once a bill is presented to the Governor, he has 10 days to sign or veto it, or to allow it to simply become law without any action. Since HB 91 reached his office on June 17, he has until June 27 to decide which way he’s gonna go.

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].


  • Eduardo Burkhart

    June 19, 2024 at 4:46 pm

    We the Floridan People, Where are the respect by put politics under the rug and let us celebrate in honor Jimmy Buffett!!

  • Bwj

    June 19, 2024 at 5:44 pm

    Jimmy Buffet is Florida. I can only hope that Ron isn’t planning against signing the bill.

  • Basics

    June 19, 2024 at 6:00 pm

    Flags were lowered at the state Capitol, not “capital.”🙄 And re “among the most popular” pieces of legislation this year: it passed both houses unanimously. Can’t get more popular than that!

  • Dan Freeman

    June 20, 2024 at 6:10 pm

    DeSantis is an embarrassment. Racism, bigotry, and vindictive are his only goals. He’s not addressing the real problems of his state, the lack of value for education, poverty, or the outrageous cost of insurance that he caused. He exemplifies fascist traits, big brother government, and a “father knows best” approach to governing. He disrespects freedom, disrespects women, disrespects Disney World (WTF??) and disrespects the boards of school systems and universities. He expects everyone to be the same as Ron DeSantis, or else they are Woke and bad in his little mind. He has single-handedly turned our paradise into some sort of neo-nazi experiment to see if that plays well in the national election for President. He cares little about people living in Florida, just cares about his political career and how to be a better Trump than Trump is.

    • Desantisbootsy

      June 21, 2024 at 4:28 pm

      All that above….dude’s just a clown. I seriously believe Desantis is a Scientologist. It would explain so much.

Comments are closed.


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