A lot of Ron DeSantis loyalists turned on him during his presidential election bid and threw support behind Donald Trump. Now that DeSantis is out the race, and still has three more years left as governor of Florida, will he seek political vengeance on his enemies? Gary Fineout at Politico wonders.
As DeSantis returns to Tallahassee, the state capital is ablaze with speculation — and anxiety — about how the governor will wield power in the remaining almost-three years of his term. How will he seek to rebuild his stature in Florida after washing out at the national level? Will he lay the groundwork to run for president again?
And, most of all: Will he take political retribution against Republicans who he sees as having betrayed him in the presidential race?
“You have a choice: You can accept responsibility or you can blame others,” said state Rep. Randy Fine, a Republican who flipped his endorsement from DeSantis to Trump and found himself drawing the ire of those in the governor’s circle. “I don’t know which he’ll choose. I hope he uses it as a learning experience.”
One Tallahassee political operative, who was granted anonymity in order to avoid drawing DeSantis’ wrath, put it this way: “Will it be the prickly, thin-skinned vengeful guy we have learned to love or can he learn he has to build rather than burn bridges?”
Fears of a vengeful DeSantis aren’t unfounded. He went after Disney after the corporate giant vowed to undo a law limiting the classroom instruction of sexual orientation and gender identity that critics called “Don’t Say Gay.” DeSantis had a falling out with Susie Wiles, his 2018 campaign manager who is now a top adviser to Trump, that led him to advocate for her removal from Trump’s reelection campaign in late 2019. Last year, state Sen. Joe Gruters, a former chair of the Republican Party of Florida, contended that DeSantis used his line-item veto to wipe out funding for projects backed by Gruters because he endorsed Trump.
More than a dozen legislators, lobbyists, political operatives, members of the DeSantis administration and Republican members of Congress said in interviews that they’ve discussed or questioned how the governor will act when he returns.
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), who was once part of DeSantis’ inner circle during his early days as governor but has backed Trump, said that DeSantis does not linger on the past and is pragmatic.
Read the rest here.
My advice (for what it’s worth): DeSantis needs to work on showing Republicans more of his humanity. Start with more stories like this.