After his projected victory in the Florida governor’s race, Ron DeSantis said voters have “rewritten the political map” by solidifying Republican control in the state, a bellwether for right-wing politics that has rocketed the governor’s national profile and signalled 2024 presidential election ambitions.
His supporters chanted “two more years” – a nod to the possibility that he could step away from the governor’s office to seek the GOP nomination in 2024.
“We saw freedom and our very way of life in so many other jurisdictions in this country wither on the vine,” he told supporters on 8 November. “Florida held the line. We chose facts over fear. We chose education over indoctrination.”
The governor’s controversial agenda has made him a popular figure on the American right with his opposition to Covid-19 “lockdowns” in 2020 and a suite of right-wing policies celebrated by conservatives but widely condemned by Democratic officials, civil right groups, LGBT+ advocates and health experts, among others.
“Florida was a refuge of sanity when the world went mad,” he added. “We stood as the citadel of freedom for people across this country and indeed across the world. We faced attacks. We took the hits. We weathered the storms. But we stood our ground. … After four years, the people have delivered their verdict: Freedom is here to stay.”
His victory comes hours after former president Donald Trump appeared to pitch himself as a potential 2024 rival, telling Fox News that it would be a “mistake” if Mr DeSantis entered the 2024 race – presumably, against him.
“I don’t know if he is running,” he said. “I think if he runs, he could hurt himself very badly. I really believe he could hurt himself badly. I think he would be making a mistake, I think the base would not like it – I don’t think it would be good for the party.”
He added: “I would tell you things about him that won’t be very flattering – I know more about him than anybody – other than, perhaps, his wife.”