DeSantis’s crushing victory proves he’s a national contender

Desantis
Florida Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis greets the crowd as he takes the stage for his Jacksonville campaign rally. (Bob Self/Florida Times-Union via AP)

DeSantis’s crushing victory proves he’s a national contender

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With about 80% of the vote counted, Florida’s gubernatorial election isn’t even close. Gov. Ron DeSantis cruised to victory, beating his Democratic opponent Charlie Crist by more than 17 points as of this writing. I expect that number to be closer to 20 points by the end of the night.

Though DeSantis was widely expected to win this race with ease, it’s remarkable just how many votes he flipped. Keep in mind: When he first ran for governor in 2018, his victory against former Democratic candidate Andrew Gillum was a narrow one. This time around, he’s winning even the bluest counties in the state, like Miami-Dade, where he’s up to 59.4% of the vote, while Crist is at 44.4%.

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Though I’d prefer not to jump immediately into the next election cycle, there’s no question DeSantis’s sweep has implications for his national prospects. He’s a GOP favorite heading into 2024, and the looming question, of course, is whether he’d be able to beat former President Donald Trump in a primary.

Florida’s results tonight suggest that, at the very least, DeSantis put up a fight. He’s winning over Republicans, Democrats, and independents alike and solidifying GOP control of his state for years to come. Trump, meanwhile, is still very unpopular among independent voters and is perhaps the only person who could convince them to turn out for even the most unlikeable Democrat.

There’s a reason Trump has started taking open, frequent jabs at DeSantis. He, like everyone else, realizes what these numbers mean: DeSantis is a national contender and perhaps the next Republican leader.

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