U.S. Representative Charlie Crist secured the Democratic nomination for governor in Florida on Tuesday, positioning him to take on Gov. Ron DeSantis this fall in a contest that the incumbent Republican sees as the start of a potential bid for the White House. Florida Democrats chose Crist over other candidates because they believed he was the most secure choice, despite the fact that he had lost his previous two statewide elections.
The 66-year-old centrist, who was Florida’s Republican governor a decade ago, is hoping to win over suburban Floridians as Democrats try to break a losing streak in a state that was once thought of as a never-ending political battleground. The Democratic race was primarily focused on DeSantis, who sees his reelection in November as a possible launching pad into the 2024 presidential race.
Democrats across Florida and beyond felt a genuine sense of urgency to stop DeSantis’ momentum due to the implications. In his victory address, Crist denounced DeSantis as an “abusive” and “destructive” “bully.” According to Crist, “Tonight, the people of Florida plainly delivered a message: They want a governor who cares about them, solves genuine problems and preserves our freedom, not a bully who divides us and takes our freedom away.”
“Everyone knows that this man wants to be president of the United States of America. But that show will end when we win against him on November 8. Enough.” Nikki Fried, the state agricultural commissioner, lost to Crist for the Democratic nomination. She ran a more liberal campaign and spoke out strongly in favour of abortion and LGBTQ rights. The 44-year-old ran for governor of Florida as “something new” and positioned herself as such. She is now the only Democrat in statewide office in Florida, a sign of the party’s weak position in the state.
She called on her fans to unify behind Crist as she announced her defeat on Tuesday, saying, “We are going to make Ronald DeSantis a one-term governor and a zero-term president of the United States.” DeSantis barely edged over the competition in his first election, but he quickly rose to the top of the GOP political hierarchy. Many Republican voters who view DeSantis as a natural successor to former President Donald Trump have praised him for his hands-off approach to the outbreak and readiness to lean into divisions over race, gender, and LGBTQ rights.
A ferocious DeSantis, speaking from a boisterous ballroom in Miami on Tuesday night, refrained from mentioning Crist by name and instead painted the general election as a struggle against President Joe Biden and “woke” ideology. DeSantis declared, “We will never, ever give in to the woke agenda.” “Waked people go to Florida to die,”
The most active period of the primaries this year, which included battles in 18 states over just 22 days, comes to an end with the contest in Florida. Republicans have backed candidates in that time who embraced Trump’s false claims that the 2020 election was rigged, which were categorically refuted by election officials, the former president’s attorney general, and judges he appointed. Republicans have supported these candidates from Arizona to Alaska.
With a few exceptions, Democrats also often shied away from vicious primary battles. In a congressional primary that featured two strong House committee chairs competing for the same seat, New York City Democrats chose Jerry Nadler over Carolyn Maloney on Tuesday. U.S. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, the leader of the Democratic Party’s congressional campaign, defeated a more liberal state senator in a contentious primary to the north of the city.
Democrats rejoiced in upstate New York when county executive Pat Ryan won a special election to finish out Democrat Anthony Delgado’s term. Delgado resigned from Congress to become lieutenant governor of New York. The fact that Republicans planned to flip the swing district is a new indication that the red wave that many political operatives anticipate this November may be waning.
Indeed, Democrats are hoping that the Supreme Court’s ruling rejecting a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion would energise the party’s base as the last weeks before the midterm elections approach. However, there are still many challenges for Democrats, such as the shaky economy and the historical fact that most parties lose seats in the first midterm election following a presidential victory.
In Florida, one of the most politically split states in the United States, the dynamics are particularly difficult for Democrats. The margin of victory in the last three gubernatorial elections was one percentage point or less. But in recent years, the state has gradually shifted in favour of Republicans.
For the first time in modern history, Florida has a greater number of Republicans with nearly 5.2 million registered voters than Democrats with just under 5 million. Fried is a sole Democrat holding a statewide position. And for four of the five positions—governor, U.S. Senate, attorney general, and chief financial officer—which are all controlled by GOP incumbents, Republicans lack a primary challenger.
Rep. Val Demings of Texas comfortably won the Democratic nomination to take on Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida this year. Demings has a chance to become Florida’s first Black female senator. She is a former police chief and a gifted political fundraiser.
While some Democrats remain optimistic that Demings may unseat Rubio, the national leadership of the party is giving priority to difficult Senate races in other states, such as Pennsylvania’s neighbours Georgia, Arizona, and Arizona. Demings was upbeat as she reminisced on her extraordinary life tale in front of an audience of cheering spectators.
Together, we can accomplish anything, she said, adding, “I honestly do think this daughter of a maid and janitor who is not supposed to be standing here tonight.” The Supreme Court’s ruling on abortion energised the last weeks of the Democratic primary in Florida’s governor’s campaign. Fried capitalised on Crist’s nomination of two conservative Supreme Court justices when he was governor to position herself as the only genuine proponent of abortion rights in the race.
The Republican-backed state legislature passed legislation banning abortions beyond 15 weeks, and the conservative-leaning court will shortly decide whether or not this law is lawful. There are several exceptions to Florida’s new abortion law, such as when the procedure is required to save the pregnant woman’s life, avoid serious damage, or if the foetus has a fatal defect.
There are no exceptions allowed for rape, incest, or human trafficking instances. Tuesday night, Crist committed to giving abortion rights a priority. He declared, “I would issue an executive order guaranteeing a woman’s freedom to choose on Day One of my administration. Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Trump ally, won the Republican primary in his Florida Panhandle district despite being the subject of a federal sex trafficking investigation.
Come November, Gaetz is a strong favourite to win a fourth term. Given its rightward trend, Florida is not anticipated to be among the most competitive states this fall, but it might be the most expensive. During this election campaign, Crist has raised $14 million, about twice as much as Fried. He must contend with a formidable fund-raising force, though.
According to the Center for Responsive Politics, DeSantis’ political operation has already raised more than $165 million since he assumed office. He’s on track to raise more money than any other governor’s candidate in history. “Never believe anyone who tells you it will be simple. They will use all of their resources against us over the course of the next two and a half months, according to DeSantis. I was elected less than four years ago, but we’re just getting started, he continued.