Does Ron DeSantis have a political death wish?

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has a death wish and/or a supersized ego that will lead him into harm.

Ron DeSantis (left) is preparing to take on former President Donald J. Trump

He reached the peak of his power after winning reelection by crushing former governor Charlie Crist, passing an educational bill empowering parents (deceitfully termed the “don’t say gay” bill by Democrats), and yanking self-government powers from Disney World after the Mouse went all Woke on DeSantis.

All the while, his poll numbers improved, he declared Florida is where Woke goes to die, and he started thinking about running for president.

Then he double dipped the education bill, which had barred gender discussions in grades K-3. Perfectly appropriate to me. How are you going to talk gender to kids who can’t tie their shoelaces? Delay that until they study biology.

But DeSantis expanded the ban right through high school. Meaning gender would never be discussed until college? Then there was the mess about canceling a Black studies Advanced Placement course, which affected almost no one, but looked bad and was an unforced error. Then he got a bill passed that no license or paperwork was necessary to carry a handgun in Florida, as if the Sunshine State were the Cowboy State.

Way too radical.

There’s more — such as targeting drag queens, bathrooms, and pronouns. DeSantis has chosen the lightning rod of social issues to be his sword and shield. Some of it will work, some will not.

PACs backing the former president have been running attack ads against DeSantis for many weeks, the latest calling him Ron DeSalesTax, because he proposed a 23% national sales tax. (He did, while in Congress, but that would have been in exchange for dropping income tax.)

A recent CBS News/YouGov poll has Donald J. Trump leading Ron DeSanctimonious (as Trump calls him) 58-22. That’s a 36-point spread. How will Meatball Ron (another Trump nickname, that he says he’s dropped) overcome that lead?

He can’t. Here’s why:

If he doesn’t attack Trump — and he says he wants to talk policy and not personality — he will seem weak.

And he doesn”t really disagree with Trump policy. He is, in effect, selling himself as a kinder, gentler Trump — the same right-wing policies without the tweets and name-calling. He is selling his personality as being different from Trump’s, but similar on policy.

And if he does attack Trump, he loses the large minority (or majority?) of Republicans who have sworn fealty to their orange king. The people who believe the election was stolen will not believe that DeSantis will be Trump 2.0, and voting for the Florida governor would be disloyal.

DeSantis is the only heir nonapparent in double digits, even if he is not in striking range.

For him to grow, he has to look better, or Trump has to look worse.

After Trump was convicted of sexual harassment and defamation, his approval rating actually went up. It’s hard to see how anything he says or does will diminish him among those who follow him. Even the ones who don’t believe his lies find the alternative — a heading-toward-decrepit Joe Biden — even worse.

Add this in: It is not a two-person race. Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley is running, and (Black) South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott has filed to run. Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson is running,  as is millionaire Vivek Ramaswamy, businessman Perry Johnson, plus possible candidacies from former VP Mike Pence, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, and others.

Get the picture? Remember 2015? 

All the normal traditional candidates canceled each other out, opening a lane for a Trump victory.

I can see exactly the same thing happening this year.

I can see it. You can see it.

How come DeSantis can’t see it? Is he placing his bets on Trump fatigue?

He could have sat this one out, finished his term and waited for 2028. Even if Trump wins, he can serve only one term. If Biden wins (assuming he is the candidate, the seat will be open — assuming he doesn’t die in office. If that happens DeSantis would face Kamala Harris.)

That’s a lot of “ifs,” but this year a Trump primary victory is a near certainty.

So why is DeSantis betting his political future?

34 thoughts on “Does Ron DeSantis have a political death wish?”

  1. I’m trying to remember if at least from a political strategy, the same could’ve been said in 1976 when Governor Ronald Reagan ran in the primary, against a sitting President no less in Gerald Ford. Reagan did offer a stark policy contrast though, but the country wasn’t ready to dump an incumbent yet. He did, though, refine his message and we all know what happened in 1980. While I see some similarities in the two situations, I also see differences. Listen, as I’ve said many times, I’ve grown to despise extremism in both directions more and more as the days go by, and neither candidate is acceptable to me, and each will force me to vote for an 81 year old Biden, or worse. But if Nikki Haley, in particular, or even a Chris Christie get the nod, I can see myself voting for a Republican for the first time since 2008.

    1. Like you, I am a moderate, or centrist, or middle ist.
      If Trump is the candidate, I will vote for the Democtatic opponent to crush Trump and expel him from politics.
      If it is not Trump, my vote is a jump ball, but I feel DeSantis is too extreme for me.

  2. As we have all learned in recent years, ‘polls’ are useless. We just witnessed it in the mayoral election last week. I don’t care if God himself conducted it.
    Trump fatigue is very real. Those who love him (myself included) are gonna realize he’s too chaotic for another 4 years of his antics. As it gets closer I believe the ‘Trump light’ appeal of DeSantis will push him to the nomination. Assuming he plays his cards right and doesnt do anything TOO drastic, policy wise. The others you mention are just wasting their time and money.

    1. My feeling is he has ALREADY been too drastic. As for the mayoral poll(s) they were essentially right on the front runners. My opinion is the 10% of “undecideds” broke for Parker, giving her the wide margin.

  3. Trump has the Georgia election interference investigation and the classified documents investigation to deal with in the coming months. The results may or may not strengthen his candidacy for the Republican nomination for president. However the last three national elections indicate he will not have the majority of votes. I believe the Republican donors will avoid giving to Trump’s campaign. Because the reality is he can’t win a national election. I.believe the other Republican Candidates know this and are hoping for a sea change. Ron DeSantis is not stupid and he can read the tea leaves. Wealthy groups are not interested in backing a Loser. And looking back on the words of Ed Rendell “Money is the Mothers-Milk of Politics.” Trump will have to spend his own money to win the Republican nomination.

  4. Stu, as soon as DeSantis announces, within several weeks, the numbers will close between Trump and DeSantis and the others will stay in single digits. DeSantis will hone his game and be just fine.

  5. When I see someone state that they “love” Trump, my inclination is too ask what they could possibly love about a serial-lying, female-abusing, contractor-cheating, escort-marrying, Jeffrey Epstein-buddying, Nazi-sympathizing, narcissistic, loser. Then I realize I probably just answered my own question.

    1. Simple: Because he reminds them of Bill Clinton, except much more transparent about being (those things you vented).

    2. Freeze, you most certainly did answer your own question! And the answer is 100% on target.

  6. RNC 2024 is a Long way off, I wouldn’t count DeSantis out so fast. Trump haters may jump on that bandwagon, because they sure as hell won’t jump on Biden’s.

  7. Trump is the Orange Jesus, the false prophet who will lead all the simpletons who follow him down along The Road to Perdition, a dead-end ending for all the dullards who believe his lies, and embrace his false testimony.

  8. I’m a DeSantis fan. If, like me, you consider the woke takeover of the nation’s institutions to be the biggest long-term problem we face as a country, it’s tough not to love the systematic way he fights back against it – one piece of legislation at a time. He has the focus and discipline that Trump obviously lacks.

    Having said that, I agree it will be tough for him to beat out Trump for the nomination at least in part because of the large GOP field will split the anti-Trump vote. As I said recently on Facebook, the primary system needs to be changed – whether it’s to a ranked voting system or having the top two vote-getters face off against each other in a run-off when nobody reaches 50 percent.

  9. A couple of fixes:

    It’s Disney World in Florida, not Disneyland.

    The mouse didn’t go all woke. The company simply (eventually) showed compassion for people. The governor does not, except if the person in question has not yet been born.

    He’d been considering running for president well before the middle of last year. Far earlier, he started his news conferences on state issues by bashing Biden, Fauci, etc. for unrelated reasons.

    Calling the legislation “Don’t Say Gay” is not deceitful. Certain teachers (guess who) cannot discuss their significant others, or they’d get in trouble if certain parents hear about it.

    Do you really think the subject of teachers’ spouses never comes up? Elementary kids don’t have filters. They always ask their teachers if they’re married, have kids, etc. What are the teachers supposed to say?

    (And “none of your business” doesn’t cut it. Students are curious and need to feel they have relationships with their teachers. That may not fit nicely into the law, but it’s human.)

    Naming the bill/law “Parental Rights in Education,” like the names of so many other pieces of legislation, is deceitful. Will the parents of every student in a classroom ever agree?

    Oh, and Nikki Haley isn’t much better. In fact, on the campaign trail, she has repeatedly said the law mentioned above doesn’t go far enough, before discussing her family when she was growing up.

    1. Thanks for correcting me on Disney, which did take a woke position. I disagree he was “running” since last year. That is your impression of a man you strongly dislike. Earlier shots at Fauci, et Al, were part of his right-wing persona.
      The parental bill did NOT prohibit teachers from answering questions from students. It banned “gender” from the curriculum.
      Things may be different today, but I don’t recall discussing my teachers personal lives before college.

  10. The problem with Trump is his mouth, it is his worst enemy. In the sexual assault case he said the victim wasn’t his type. That came back to bite him, when the defense used those same words against him in his closing. Now calling his fellow Republican “Meatball Ron”. He’s not making Italian voters very happy… I thought he may have learned to stop the insults, they don’t do him any good. I guess he is ahead by so many points over Ron DeSantis he doesn’t care. I say if you are a candidate for President of the United States you should have dignity and class.

        1. Unlike Samson, he wants to enslave people and make them all do what he wants. their needs be damned.

  11. Maybe his wife wants him to run. Casey DeSantis wears the pants in that marriage. She is also his chief advisor & gatekeeper(think Nancy Reagan). You should do some research on her.

    1. I have and much of it reeks of sexism from people who are supposed to eschew sexism. My policy is to leave wives and children alone until they become active participants, rather than hand holding and waving to the crowd.

  12. She has been an active participant since he first ran for office. She is deeply involved in his decision making. She has input on personnel & state gov’t decisions. She is more Lady Macbeth than Hillary Clinton. I can’t find the link, but I e-mailed you a post from POLITICO from Friday about her.

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