DeSantis Notching Political Wins Ahead of Reelection Bid, Possible WH Run

DeSantis Notching Political Wins Ahead of Reelection Bid, Possible WH Run ron desantis speaks to press Florida Governor Ron DeSantis holds a news conference at the Florida Department of Health office in Viera, Florida, on Sept. 1, 2021. (Paul Hennessy/Sipa via AP)

By Fran Beyer | Thursday, 18 November 2021 12:12 PM

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is flexing his political muscle — and piling up significant policy wins as he prepares for reelection and a potential White House bid, Politico reported Thursday.

His latest victory was notched during a special session that began Monday, and wrapped up Wednesday, to fight the Biden administration’s coronavirus vaccine mandates. In that time, the GOP-dominated Legislature approved four bills that undercut President Joe Biden’s vaccine push, Politico noted.

Through the process in the state House and state Senate, DeSantis never commented or publicly stepped foot in the Capitol, Politico noted.

"The governor can do anything he wants to do," state GOP Rep. Ardian Zika declared this week, Politico reported.

State Democrat Rep. Fentrice Driskell saw the victories differently.

"Ultimately this is about power, right?" she said, Politico reported. "This entire special session was a power play on the governor, so it does not behoove the legislative leadership, who seems to be in lockstep with this governor, to speak out in a way that would be contrary to him."

According to Politico, the legislation that got the most attention was a proposal requiring employers to offer vaccine exemptions tied to a number of factors, including medical conditions and religious beliefs. The bill also gives Attorney General Ashley Moody $5 million to investigate worker complaints.

When the special legislative session started Monday, Republicans were eager to hand DeSantis wins ahead of the 2022 midterms, even though some quietly complained a special session was not needed, Politico reported.

DeSantis, in an unprompted comment, pushed back.

"People said at the time, ‘Well, the governor is doing it because the Legislature, they don’t want to, they are going to do something that won’t be effective,’" DeSantis said during a press conference last week, Politico reported. "That’s not true at all. We have been working both with the speaker and the Senate president to get proposed legislation."

The state House got the bills through the House quickly — and Republican members didn’t even debate a measure giving DeSantis $1 million to study withdrawing from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Democrats suggested Republicans were acting as DeSantis’ political puppets, Politico reported.

"Why are we giving the governor $1 million to do the work of committee and legislative staff?" state Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith said of the OSHA bill, the news outlet reported.