Florida proved on Election Night that with the right candidate, the GOP can exceed expectations and win big. Ron DeSantis won his re-election Tuesday night, leading by more than 1.5 million votes. DeSantis’ energy helped Senator Marco Rubio and statewide Republicans surge across the board, giving the GOP its biggest Florida win in decades.
The Editorial Board; November 8, 2022
Ron DeSantis was expected to win re-election as Florida Governor, but the big news Tuesday was the magnitude of his victory. His nearly 20-point rout of Democrat Charlie Crist shows the magnitude of the political change in the once-swing state and may launch the Republican’s campaign for the White House.
The Governor won nearly everywhere in the state, and notably in Democratic strongholds. He won by double digits in heavily Hispanic Miami-Dade County, which Joe Biden carried by 85,000 votes and a statewide Republican hadn’t carried since Jeb Bush won re-election 2002. Mr. DeSantis also won Osceola County south of Orlando, which has a heavy Puerto Rican population. He even won in Democratic Palm Beach County.
The DeSantis tide lifted other GOP candidates, as Sen. Marco Rubio won re-election handily. The GOP also picked up two House seats, including the St. Petersburg seat Mr. Crist gave up to run for Governor.
Florida has been trending to the GOP for some time, and previous two-term Governors Mr. Bush and Rick Scott did much to demonstrate effective Republican governance. But Mr. DeSantis won by fewer than 34,000 votes in 2018. He was leading Tuesday by nearly 1.5 million with 90% of the vote counted. Florida Democrats are going to have to rethink their campaigns in the state.
In his victory remarks, Mr. DeSantis credited his pandemic policies, stressing “freedom” over mandates, and “education” over “indoctrination.” He expanded school choice in the state, which has helped win minority voters. He opened the state for business and classroom instruction earlier than most Governors did—decisions that were widely derided in the national and Florida press. But the voters seemed to appreciate those policies and rewarded him.
Mr. DeSantis is thought to have presidential ambitions, and his victory speech sounded like it. A national campaign is a much larger challenge than running even a large state like Florida, and Mr. DeSantis will have to cut down on his extensive use of the vertical pronoun if he wants to rally a movement.
But there’s little doubt that his Florida success will grab the attention of voters outside the Sunshine State. You can bet Donald J. Trump was watching—unhappily.