Democratic Governors Association Not Eager to Challenge DeSantis


The Democratic Governors Association (DGA) will likely not be writing large checks to Florida’s Democratic gubernatorial challengers to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Congressman Charlie Crist (D-FL-13) and Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried (D) are the most likely candidates to face off against DeSantis in a general election.

Two sources within the national Democratic organization confirmed to POLITICO the DGA will be limiting its financial resources to Florida Democrats as they are growing less likely to view Florida as a competitive state for statewide Democrats.

“I do think, and I can’t stress this enough, the DGA is playing mostly defense this year, and that’s a monumental change,” said Jonathan Ducote, a Democratic consultant who has worked with the organization. “When I think about Florida statewide elections, the number one thing you have to ask yourself is do you have the money to communicate in a really expensive state?”

In the past, the DGA has spent over $15 million on the last two gubernatorial races, all to see Florida’s Democrats flop statewide. The exception is Fried, who won her race for Florida agriculture commissioner by 6,000 votes.

“I spoke to them two weeks ago. We had a pretty candid conversation. DeSantis is looking strong politically and financially, and there are states like Massachusetts, Maryland and Arizona where they see potential pickups on top of incumbent protection,” said an anonymous consultant working with the DGA, to POLITICO. “They might do some money, but they are not going the way they have been in the past. There are not going to be multi-million-dollar checks.”

Caroline Downey, a writer and analyst at the right-leaning National Review, said this indicates Democrats are seeing less viability in an expensive, growing red state like Florida.

“There is a sense, two anonymous Florida Democratic consultants in communication with the DGA told POLITICO, that the party is losing viability in Florida, a longtime battleground state that some believe is evolving into a Republican bulwark. With the DGA spending over $15 million in Florida over the past two gubernatorial election cycles, supporting Democratic candidates in the state has come at great cost and with no meaningful returns, causing some to argue that such resources would be better used defending Democratic governors in vulnerable states such as Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan.”

The DGA, however, is pushing back against the narrative that Democrats are losing a hold on Florida saying it is still a “tried and true battleground state.”

“Florida is a tried and true battleground state where he’ll have to answer for putting his own partisan politics first – even when it hurts Floridians,” said Sam Newton, deputy communications director at the DGA to POLITICO. “That includes opposing Medicaid expansion, costing lives by playing political games with COVID-19, and even slamming local counties and schools with fines just for implementing their own common sense mask and vaccine measures.”

Yesterday, the DGA also tweeted a statement indicating their intention to remain competitive in Florida’s gubernatorial race in 2022 and that the anonymous quotes are not true.

“Florida is a competitive battleground state in 2022,” said DGA Executive Director Noam Lee. “Gov. DeSantis is vulnerable and defeating him is a priority for the DGA. We’ve already started investing in Florida and are working with our candidates to ensure we have what it takes to take on DeSantis next fall. We’ve beat GOP incumbents in tough states like Scott Walker, Pat McCrory, and Matt Bevin – and we are deploying the same strategy now in Florida. Any reports and anonymous quotes that say Florida is not in play or that the DGA is not interested are just flat wrong.”

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Grant Holcomb is a reporter at The Florida Capital Star and The Star News Network. Follow Grant on Twitter and direct message tips.
Photo “Ron DeSantis” by Gage Skidmore CC 2.0.




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