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Ron DeSantis became governor of Florida by less than half of one percentage point — 32,463 votes, to be exact. DeSantis failed to receive a majority of votes cast, when you add the votes of minor-party candidates. But he wants you to forget how close he came to losing and he works every day to make you think he won in a landslide.
DeSantis is on a right-wing rampage, despite his skin-of-his-teeth victory. He runs Florida as if he were appointed governor for life and his 21 million-plus subjects are all like-minded supporters of Donald Trump who want to live under an authoritarian regime.
DeSantis decides everything — and with as little advance notice as possible. By decree, he suspended all city and county COVID-19 regulations on Monday until July 1, when they will be wiped away by a new state law he has signed.
Why does Florida have 67 counties and more than 400 cities and towns with elected leaders if DeSantis, by the stroke of a pen, can undo their actions and thwart their will?
Disagree with DeSantis at your own risk. He blocks businesses from requiring proof of vaccinations. He imposes restrictions on how local governments respond to future emergencies by limiting their power to respond to hurricanes, floods or the next pandemic.
By the stroke of a pen, DeSantis decided how and where you can protest, with his recent signing of House Bill 1, miscast as the “anti-riot” bill.
One of the governor’s most vocal critics, Thomas Kennedy, was blocked from attending a recent outdoor event on the grounds of the seaport in Miami, a government agency. Kennedy, an immigration reform advocate, loudly disrupted a DeSantis press event last year, and has been labeled a “known agitator” by a state law enforcement agency partly under DeSantis’ control.
Remember that Governor DeSantis would like to be President DeSantis.
By signing an unnecessary overhaul of state election laws (SB 90), DeSantis will decide when, where and how you vote.
For some South Floridians, DeSantis even decides WHEN you vote. If you live in the 20th Congressional District and were a constituent of the late U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, you will have no voice speaking up for you in Washington until next year — another DeSantis decree.
He signed an order Tuesday delaying the upcoming special election to fill Hastings’ seat until Nov. 2 for the primary and next Jan. 11 for the general election.
By postponing the vote until then, DeSantis assures that the district’s residents in Broward and Palm Beach counties, many of whom are Democrats who are Black, will have no representation for nearly a year. It also ensures that at least three seats vacated by Democratic state legislators who are running for Congress will still be vacant when the next legislative session opens next Jan. 11.
Palm Beach Supervisor of Elections Wendy Link told the Sun Sentinel Wednesday she opposes those dates and predicted confusion for voters, as the dates would require early voting to begin on New Year’s Day and poll workers to undergo training over the December holidays. The dates “are not helpful at all,” Link said. She had urged the governor to set the primary for Aug. 31 and general election for Nov. 2. Link was appointed to her office by DeSantis before winning election in 2020.
For voters in Key West, DeSantis decides whether their votes count or not. He’ll likely soon sign a bill that invalidates a vote by the people of Key West to prevent large cruise ships from docking in the island city.
He has already decided that many people can’t vote, by imposing financial restrictions on Amendment 4 in which the voters of the state sought to restore the voting rights to most convicted felons.
The dictator in the governor’s office is also a shrewd politician.
He ordered the state to reopen, even as he allowed state employees who work under him to continue working from home. He declared Florida was open for business even as most of the state Capitol was off-limits to the public. (The Department of Management Services, an agency under DeSantis’ direction, manages the Capitol grounds, not the Legislature.)
He signs important pieces of legislation in secret, in the confines of his Capitol office, with no news media allowed to listen or watch, as he did April 29. On that day, he signed a noxious “right to farm” bill (SB 88) known in Florida’s environmental community as the “right to harm” bill. Strongly backed by the powerful sugar industry, it protects its unhealthy cane-burning practices.
To consolidate their power, autocrats restrict the free flow of information, which DeSantis does with a frightening level of efficiency.
He slow-walks or ignores lawful requests for public information. He releases his daily schedule long after he has already held events.
Under DeSantis, one leader calls all the shots. The rest of us are expected to fall in line.