After four years of crafting policies aimed at addressing the Fox News headline of the moment, it seems that Floridians are finally starting to see through their glass-jawed Governor. In new likely-voter polling released this week by FiveThirtyEight, Ron DeSantis, Florida’s Governor since 2018, trails probable challenger Charlie Crist by 2 percentage points.
Florida’s primary is not until late August, so it’s still possible that the race could shake up. Crist is in a 2-way race with Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Nikki Fried. But, thus far, Crist has dramatically out fund-raised Fried, and has just posted his third consecutive month over a million dollars raised.
Crist, who has already served once as Florida’s Governor, is a known name in the Sunshine State. He was the Republican Governor from 2006-2010, before endorsing Barack Obama’s re-election in 2012 and officially joining the Democratic Party. Since then, Crist has served as the Democratic Congressman representing his home district since 2016—a district (Florida’s 13th) which hadn’t elected a Democrat since 1955.
Meanwhile, Crist has begun picking up major endorsements for the Governorship in Florida. In the fallout over DeSantis’ most controversial legislation, Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill, Crist has been endorsed by The Florida Education Association. It is the state’s primary teacher’s union, representing more than 150,000 members. As reported here by the Florida Phoenix, the FEA also took the opportunity to attack DeSantis’s leadership:
“Where is the leader of Florida? The current governor has gone around the state vilifying teachers and staff…We need a governor who will support the teachers and staff in our public schools,” said Andrew Spar, president of FEA, at a news conference Tuesday in Miami.
Then, Monday, Crist was endorsed by the Sierra Club of Florida, which said of him in their statement, “It’s no secret that this election cycle will have deep repercussions for Florida’s communities, economy, and environment. We believe that Charlie Crist is the only candidate in this race that can defeat Ron DeSantis, take action to protect our environment and confront the ongoing climate crisis.”
But perhaps the most notable endorsements Crist has secured have been Progressive endorsements. According to Florida Politics, State Rep. Anna Eskamani, a progressive leader whose background includes serving as senior director for Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida, is unconcerned with Crist’s former Republicanism:
“I trust Charlie to fight for our collective rights and to solve problems, like the affordable housing crisis and climate change. I trust Charlie to champion the needs of our most vulnerable community members, and to work with the best people to get it done. I did not make this decision lightly — but as Democrats we need to unite and stay focused on victory in November. Charlie is the best candidate right now to bring us together and to help build a more prosperous Florida for all.”
The polling, conducted from May 27th through June 4th, is a “likely-voter” poll. This is noteworthy because Likely-Voter polling, as opposed to Registered-Voter polling, tends to favor Republicans. (Or, at least, tends not to overrate Democrats.)
So it’s very possible, given that this is an LV Poll, and given the week in which it was conducted, that it really does represent a shift among Florida voters. DeSantis spent the week of this polling threatening to sue The Special Olympics and snowflake-ishly “canceling” the Tampa Bay Rays organization for joining the New York Yankees in speaking out on gun control.
Could it be that maybe, (hopefully!), as DeSantis has used his non-stop publicity stunts to gain support among the national conservative base for a 2024 Presidential run, he’s finally alienated a Florida votership that’s tired of being stuck in the middle of culture war after culture war? Only time will tell.