Republican gubernatorial nominee Ron DeSantis went back to his roots on Election Day, voting and greeting supporters at a Catholic Church in Ponte Vedra Beach.
In Congress, his district was redrawn in 2016 south of there, compelling him to change official residences for much of his last term. But as the campaign came to close, DeSantis came home.
The question for DeSantis and other Republicans on the ballot: will Republicans and right-leaning and moderate NPAs follow suit?
President Donald Trump and his surrogate network powered DeSantis first through the primary, and now through the general election, with Trump often able to say things (like calling Democrat Andrew Gillum a “stone cold thief”) that DeSantis couldn’t quite.
DeSantis vigorously defended employing the President as a closer in his campaign’s stretch run appeal to independent voters, noting that for voters that he has represented, the economy is radically improved in recent years.
“Economy,” DeSantis said. “If you look at where we were when I ran for Congress in 2012, of course this area’s always been pretty good, but other parts of my district, Daytona Beach, they had unemployment eight, nine percent.”
“Now all these areas are under four percent and Florida’s obviously been on a roll. Those voters look at it and say that is really the foundation of everything,” DeSantis said, channeling current Governor Rick Scott.
“Say you want more education funding,” DeSantis added. “Well, guess what? If you have a healtthy economy, you’re going to have a strong and vibrant tax base, you’re going to have more resources to do education, environment, transportation.”
“If you wreck that, if you start doing tax increases and drive business away and kill jobs and stop investment coming into Florida … just think about like in Jacksonville close by here, the number of corporate headquarters that have come over the last say ten years. How many of them would have come if our taxes had been increased forty percent,” DeSantis asked. “I’ll bet you few of them would.”
The reference, of course, is to a Gillum proposal to raise the corporate tax rate to 7.75 percent, an idea that has elicited little enthusiasm from anyone else in a competitive race.
“From an economic perspective and a results perspective,” DeSantis added, Trump’s message is a “good message for folks.”
“You people have to decide: if you’re more concerned about tweeting than results, I respect that. That’s your vote, you can do what you want. To me, it’s all about results,” DeSantis added.
We also asked DeSantis why, after the fractious primary campaign, runner-up Adam Putnam offered no material help to the ticket.
There, his answer was more terse.
“You’d have to ask him,” the candidate said about his primary opponent not backing the ticket during the pivotal stretch run.