I had never heard the name Ron DeSantis until a little over a month ago when Andrew Gillum won the Democratic nomination to run for Governor of Florida. DeSantis, Gillum's Republican opponent, decided it would be a good idea to go on national TV and say, out loud, that Florida voters shouldn't "monkey this up" by electing Gillum (who is black). And that's when I knew that DeSantis was going to be a really unbelievably bad candidate.
I don't mean "bad" as in, "He's just an awful person!" I mean "bad" as in Ron DeSantis is going to be one of those candidates that after the election is over, people are going to shake their head and say, "What the fuck just happened? Who let this imbecile run for one of the most important jobs in the country?" It's clear he's trying to run as a Trump clone but so far, this has failed for pretty much everyone who's tried it in a general election. Ed Gillepsie was stomped into the ground in Virginia, taking a good chunk of the state legislature with him. Joe Arpaio tried it in Arizona and was crushed. Roy Moore went all in on the Trump Strategem and lost a Senate seat to Democrat Doug Jones. In Alabama. Alabama!
Clearly, running as a Trumpian racist asshole is not a winning strategy and almost suicidal in a state Trump just barely won in 2016. So one is forced to wonder what the hell Ron DeSantis is doing:
After months of limiting his contact with Florida voters and reporters, Republican gubernatorial nominee Ron DeSantis this week turned into a ubiquitous and pugnacious presence on the campaign trail.
He also jumped head-long into the realm of the absurd with some of his attacks on Democratic nominee Andrew Gillum.
Desantis suggested Saturday in Central Florida that a Gov. Gillum would usher in a state income tax and be soft on child molesters.
None of that is true, of course, but like Trump, DeSantis is assuming he can get away with lying without consequence.
Asked later about those unsubstantiated claims, DeSantis said he was comfortable with them, given Gillum's expensive agenda and public comments about Trump's immigration policies.
"It's almost like saying, 'I can't persuade voters on the real issues so I'm going to raise fear and doubt.' That worked pretty well for a guy named Trump, and DeSantis is taking part of Trump's playbook," said Paulson, a Republican who recently registered as an independent out of disillusionment with the GOP under Trump.
The problem is that DeSantis is, so far, terrible at this. Not for nothing, "Monkey this up" is the single stupidest racist dog whistle of all time. It's not even a real phrase. It's like DeSantis decided on the spot to throw the word "monkey" in to insult Gillum and the best he could come up with was borderline gibberish. His racist attacks on immigrants (child molesters? Seriously?) are just as ill-conceived. Considering that 42% of the state is Latino and black (and the Cuban population isn't as conservative as it used to be), it's perhaps not the smartest idea to run as a mini-Trump. Especially a dumber-than-the-original one.
I suppose it's not entirely DeSantis' fault. As a Republican, it's not like he has a platform to run on that he can sell to the general public. Tax cuts for billionaires, all you choke on pollution, and oligarchy isn't exactly going to get Bubba and his drinking buddies to the polls. Then again, telling almost half the population of your state that you hate them isn't going to do you any favors, either. Keep up the good work, buddy!
It's important to keep in mind that should Gillum win, Republicans are in a lot of trouble in Florida. Gillum will be in a position to undo a great deal of the voter suppression keeping Republicans in power since the Governor appoints the Secretary of State and the SoS controls elections. Gillum will also be able to weigh in heavily on redistricting after the 2020 Census and that will be a problem for Republicans and their heavily gerrymandered seats. Without that one-two punch and a rapidly changing demographic mix, Republicans running on white nationalism are not going to receive a warm welcome on a statewide level going forward. Florida with its 27 House seats and 29 electoral votes is a crucial state for Republicans to hold onto to the House, the Senate and the White House. Losing control of it will be a brutal blow to the GOP.
Too bad they picked a clown to run for governor. Ha. Ha. Ha.