Democrats hope to defeat DeSantis simply because they’re better

On Monday I received a text message from one of the Democratic Party candidates running for governor. She was asking for a contribution. Her message was one of a need for money to defeat incumbent Florida Governor Ron DeSantis later this year. 

DeSantis has been a terrible and hateful governor. He has ruled (instead of governed) with hate in his heart for Florida’s Black residents, down on their luck immigrants, the LGBTQ+ community, females who don’t obey their husbands’ every word (no matter the circumstances), persons who prefer free choice when it comes to abortion, people on Medicaid, persons who do not date back to slave-owning whites during the Civil War… and the list is much longer.

I mention that DeSantis rules… not governs. How else to explain a governor who scoffs, ignores and does not feel a need to follow laws he does not agree with? His signature legislative achievements in 2021 — HB 1, his Black Lives Matter-inspired crackdown on protests — was redefining “certain” protests as “riots.” In other words, a Black Lives Matter protest is a riot. Then again, a Miami Cuban group closing down I-95 is a protest. Of course, the Cubans in Miami vote Republican. 

As for Covid-19, Florida has had almost 80 million reported cases of the virus. More than 72,000 human lives have perished because of it. Florida ranks 13th in the country in deaths per 100,000 at 0.49. And yet DeSantis, ignoring the fact of more deaths in his state because of this deadly virus than the total of all Americans killed during the Vietnam War, has constantly mocked lockdowns and mask mandates in favor of allowing businesses to operate at greater risk to customers. For DeSantis, money trumps (no pun intended) human lives. Claiming to be “proud of standing up for people’s rights,” the Florida governor last year pushed through the state legislature four bills to offset federal mask and vaccine mandates.

And despite this horrible record of putting himself, his interests and that of special interests (meaning big business in Florida) before the more than 20 million Florida residents, the aforementioned Democratic Party candidate asking for money stated her purpose as one to simply defeat this horrible governor.

I agree. It is important to defeat DeSantis — which I doubt. But as reason to do this, please give me more than “Hey! We need the money!”

I am not naive. Money is the mother’s milk, as the expression states, of political campaigns in the United States. The fact is that that same milk has grown so sour that how much money you are able to amass becomes the top priority of any political run. But still…

Republicans are much, much better at messaging than Democrats. It’s how they often win their races. They are also more honest than Democrats. They will tell you outright that they are not in favor of a certain group because they might “monkey this up,” as DeSantis referred to his opponent, Andrew Gillum, a Black man, in the 2018 race for governor. Is it wrong? Of course. But at least he’s telling you what he stands for. And this country is populated by more racists and bigots than we give ourselves credit for. In DeSantis’ case, it worked. 

And sure, as of the end of January DeSantis had more than $80 million in cash to paint and degrade his Democratic Party opponents as he sees fit in the coming months. Not one Democrat has reached $10 million. The political war chests of all the Demo candidates together don’t amount to even half of DeSantis’ take. 

And still I insist, let me know why you’re running. And just because you consider yourself a better candidate and person than DeSantis is not enough. Or have we forgotten lessons taught in 2016 by Democratic Party candidate for president Hillary Clinton (and she had more money than her opponent) whose message centered around the fact that ‘she was better’ than Donald Trump (so very true); but how did that work out?

Also, there is very little work, if any, being done on the ground in Florida as we ready for the November elections. Ground work — voter registration, reaching out to already registered voters, the actual human touch of potential voters — is NOT being done by Democrats in the state. And it shows. Since 2021 Republican registered voters outnumber Democrats, and the advantage continues to grow. 

Finally, and I focus on Miami-Dade County where Democrats have usually beaten Republicans by a wide margin allowing them to win state races, a recently released Bendixen & Amandi International poll shows Republicans gaining in what used to be a Democratic bellwether county. As explained in the Miami Herald:

“…Biden’s support among those surveyed by Bendixen & Amandi International this month is practically the only good news for Democrats in a county where they have historically won with double-digit margins. The bad news for Florida Democrats is that Biden has been unable to gain ground against former President Donald Trump, leading in the poll by seven points — the same margin of victory he had in the county in 2020.

“It’s a similar story when Biden is matched up against Gov. Ron DeSantis, a vocal critic of the president and potential 2024 presidential contender. The poll shows that, if the election were held today, voters would choose Biden over DeSantis by just 6 percentage points in Miami-Dade.”

For the sake of comparison, in 2016 Hillary Clinton beat Donald Trump in Miami-Dade County by approximately 30 percentage points.

And yet, Democrats are sleepwalking through 2022. 

It was best said by Fernand Amandi, a Miami-based Democratic pollster and a partner at the firm: “For Democrats to enjoy the type of margins that they’ve historically been accustomed to in Miami-Dade, they need to go back to basics.”

Basics! A good word. In politics it’s much more than spending money on television and sending out messages via Twitter, Facebook and other social media outlets. It’s the actual touching and talking to voters on the street — with a clear-cut message.