President Donald Trump always figured to loom large in this year’s midterm elections across the nation, and Republican U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis‘ entry into the Florida governor’s race today confirms Trump will be a big factor in the Sunshine State.
DeSantis — praised by Trump in a Dec. 22 tweet from the tarmac of Palm Beach International Airport — invoked the president and part-time Palm Beach resident while announcing his candidacy on Fox News this morning. Democratic governor candidate Gwen Graham, meanwhile, was the first of what will likely be many Democrats to slam DeSantis for his Trump ties.
“Ron DeSantis running as Trump’s hand-picked candidate with the backing of out-of-state billionaires may endear him to the most partisan primary voters, but he is too extreme for Florida,” Graham said.
DeSantis faces Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and, possibly, House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land-O’Lakes, in the GOP primary. Graham is seeking the Democratic nomination against Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, Winter Park businessman Chris King and former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine.
Trump’s tweet that DeSantis “would make a GREAT Governor of Florida” instantly boosted the three-term congressman’s profile. DeSantis mentioned the Trump tweet on Fox and Friends.
“As you remember a few weeks ago, the president tweeted support for me as a candidate for governor of Florida,” DeSantis said. “So today, we’re going to be filing the paperwork to begin that effort. As somebody who’s a military officer, Iraq veteran, a proven conservative and then with the support of the president, I’m in a position to exercise the leadership that can build on the great work that Gov. Rick Scott has done to advance economic opportunity, reform education and drain the swamp in Tallahassee, which needs to be drained just like Washington.”
While eager to associate himself with Trump, DeSantis said he disagrees with a Trump Administration proposal to open up the eastern Gulf of Mexico to oil drilling. Scott and Republican Sen. Marco Rubio have joined Democrats in criticizing the idea.
“I agree with Gov. Scott,” on opposing drilling, DeSantis said on Fox and Friends. “In Florida our coastline is so important to our economy, it’s important to property values, it’s important to tourism. And we need to protect our coastline…I’m going to be fighting with Gov. Scott to protect Florida’s coastline. And you know what, I think this is just a draft proposal and I think that the White House will ultimately be with us and I think we’ll be able to work it out so that Florida’s beaches will be protected.”