Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis says he has filed paperwork to seek a second term in 2022.
DeSantis, a Republican who has become one of the party’s most prominent faces because of his stance against COVID-19 lockdowns and vaccine mandates, said on Nov. 8 that a formal campaign announcement is pending.
“It’s more of a formality to open a campaign committee,” he said during a news conference. “We won’t do any public announcements until after the special session, but you have to prepare for these things.”
DeSantis suggested that he would run a reelection campaign promoting policies opposed to COVID-19 lockdowns, vaccine passport systems, and mandatory masking requirements.
He also said his state would continue to challenge President Joe Biden’s Department of Labor-directed vaccine mandate for private businesses and companies that have contracts with the federal government. Florida is suing the administration to put a stop to the vaccine mandates, while DeSantis last month called for a special legislative session to help protect employees who don’t want the vaccine.
“No cop, no firefighter, no nurse, nobody should be losing their jobs because of these jabs,” DeSantis said on Nov. 8. “We have got to stand up for people and protect their jobs and protect their livelihoods.”
Democrats who could potentially challenge DeSantis include Rep. Charlie Crist (D-Fla.)—a former governor—as well as Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried and state Sen. Annette Taddeo. Crist was elected governor of Florida as a Republican before he switched parties to independent to run for the U.S. Senate, while Fried is the only Democrat elected to a statewide office in Florida.
After DeSantis filed paperwork, Crist issued a statement on Nov. 8, saying DeSantis will run on a “deeply divisive, flawed record,” adding, “Our state deserves a Governor with a heart.”
However, with Democratic recent losses in last week’s election—which saw Republican Glenn Youngkin defeat Democrat Terry McAuliffe in Virginia’s gubernatorial race—Democrats may have a steep uphill battle in defeating DeSantis. The party hasn’t won the governor’s seat since Lawton Chiles was reelected in 1994, while former President Donald Trump defeated Joe Biden by about 4 percentage points in the state in 2020.
Earlier this month, DeSantis confirmed that Republicans have overtaken Democrats in voter registration for the first time in the state’s history.
“When I got elected governor, we had 280,000 more registered Democrats than Republicans in the state of Florida,” DeSantis said during a press conference last week in Seminole. “Today, and it will probably be fully publicized very soon, today for the first time in the history of Florida, we’ve now overtaken Democrats. There are more registered Republicans in Florida than Democrats.”
One of the reasons for the uptick in higher Republican voter registrations, DeSantis speculated, may be due to Republicans having fled Democrat-led states to Florida in recent years.