With the Florida primary election just three weeks away, Gov. Ron DeSantis has not offered an endorsement to any congressional candidates from his state. Yet, his name and image have still been used widely in the campaigns of several Republican contenders, Politico reported.
Rep. Anthony Sabatini (R-Fla.) touted the governor’s philosophy during a recent congressional debate organized by DeSantis and held during the Republican Party of Florida’s summer conference in Tampa.
“The country is running out of time, and we need people with [DeSantis’] philosophy in D.C.,” Sabatini said.
A large photo of DeSantis along with the words “Sabatini has been the most trusted ally of the Governor DeSantis agenda” was included in his campaign mailer, as the conservative congressman seeks to gain a GOP seat to replace Rep. Stephanie Murphy. a Democrat, who has said she will not seek another term.
Another close ally of the governor, Laurel Lee, made good use of the connection to her former boss as a selling point. Her television ads featured the statement “For Congress, there’s just one candidate trusted by Gov. DeSantis to secure our elections: Laurel Lee.”
“It’s part of everyone’s pitch to voters, but in my case it isn’t fiction,” said Lee, who was appointed DeSantis’ secretary of state back in 2019. She is now running for a new congressional seat in the Tampa Bay area.
With the state’s population growing, Florida Republicans are expected to gain four more congressional seats that would give them a 20–8 advantage, compared with the present 16–11 edge.
DeSantis–A Rising Star
DeSantis has drawn increased national attention in recent weeks. He has been given credit for highly positive economic figures for Florida in 2022, with unemployment at 3.2 percent in March—0.4 percentage points below the national rate—and 325,000 jobs added between March 2021 and March 2022.
The governor was the subject of a lengthy June 20 profile in the New Yorker magazine. The profile characterized him as an intelligent and hard-working rising star within the GOP, while taking him to task for his stance on COVID-19 and other issues.
DeSantis consistently has dodged questions about whether he’s considering a run for the White House. Political pundits across the nation consider him a leading candidate to be the Republican nominee in 2024.
Half of Floridians say they approve of the job DeSantis is doing when it comes to jobs and the economy, according to a recent survey by the University of South Florida and Florida International University. Only 34.2 percent approved of how President Joe Biden is handling the same issues.
DeSantis donors have sent his campaign almost $13.1 million since November 2021, and The Friends of Ron DeSantis PAC has brought in more than $116.6 million since October 2020, records show.
Michael Washburn and Nanette Holt contributed to this report.