The Democratic Governors Association appears to have designated the 2022 gubernatorial race in Florida as a lost cause and will not give any Democratic candidates looking to defeat Gov. Ron DeSantis any significant financial support.
Politico reported that the DGA will instead prioritize defending incumbent Democratic governors in other states amid a “growing sense that Democrats can’t win statewide elections in Florida”:
The decision to withhold resources in Florida deals a blow to Democrats eager to knock off DeSantis, a nationally ascendant Republican with future White House aspirations. It also indicates that Florida is losing its position as the largest swing state, with some national groups deciding that, at least for now, it’s center-right terrain.
The perception that DeSantis is unbeatable has left national Democratic groups like the DGA to weigh whether they should spend resources in Florida, a hugely expensive state with 10 media markets, or use that cash to help incumbents in cheaper states.
“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 veteran Democratic consultant who has worked with the group. “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 a statement to Politico, a DGA official asserted that DeSantis is vulnerable and criticized his record on the COVID-19 pandemic. But Democratic consultants who are aware of the DGA’s plans and spoke with the outlet about them said there are races in Massachusetts, Maryland, and Arizona with better opportunities to unseat Republican governors.
“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” for whichever Florida Democrat challenges DeSantis, one consultant said.
Ahead of his 2022 re-election campaign, DeSantis appears to be in a far stronger position than three years ago when he narrowly defeated Democrat Andrew Gillum in a race so close it triggered a machine recount.
A recent poll from the Saint Leo University Polling Institute found DeSantis holding double-digit leads over potential Democratic challengers, including former Gov. Charlie Crist and state Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried.
DeSantis held a combined job approval rating of 56.4% in the poll, with 40.6% disapproving of his performance as governor.
The governor has also raised a formidable $50 million war chest for his campaign from enthusiastic supporters nationwide, some of whom believe he could be a strong candidate for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.
DeSantis’ strengths, combined with a national environment that’s unfavorable to Democrats given President Joe Biden’s flailing approval rating (42.9%), make clear that barring an unforeseen change of fortune, the Republican governor seems well on his way to re-election, and then who knows where next?