OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
Increasingly popular Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has made it official: The Sunshine State is now a red state under his leadership.
DeSantis announced this week that Republicans now have a 120,000 voter edge over Democrats in Florida.
“When I got elected governor, there were almost 300,000 more registered Democrats in the state of Florida than Republicans. Today, there are over 120,000 more registered Republicans, and we never had more Republicans in the history of the state until I became governor,” DeSantis said while signing election integrity legislation that aims to ensure elections remain secure in the Sunshine State.
“I think people do appreciate a free state and I think they appreciate a lot of what we’ve been able to do,” he said, pointing to a few of the key pieces of legislation the legislature and his administration made a reality.
“We had a special session of the legislature last week and … the legislature passed a couple of bills,” he said, pointing to the congressional districts, including action taken against Disney’s Reedy Creek, which he said, “was basically run by Walt Disney Company.”
“That was really the first step in what’s going to be a process to make sure that, you know, Disney should not run its own government. Disney should not be exempt from the laws that every single person in Florida has to pass,” he said, defending the action from critics:
And some people are trying to say somehow that they would get a tax break out of not having their special treatment. Trust me, under no circumstances will Disney not pay its fair share of taxes when this is done. People have also said that somehow because they’ve been able to run up tax free debt with these bonds, but somehow the bonds are going to get dumped on a truck. Now under no circumstances will Disney be able to not pay its debts, we will make sure of that. Do not worry about that.
DeSantis’s announcement comes days after his wife, first lady Casey DeSantis, announced that Republicans had a 116,000 edge over Democrats:
Policy Matters. Leadership Matters. Floridians overwhelming support @RonDeSantisFL and his freedom agenda.
Since Election Day 2020, we’ve seen a net gain of +250,000 voters register as Republicans. Today, we have more than +116,000 more Republicans than Democrats in the state.
— Casey DeSantis (@CaseyDeSantis) April 19, 2022
Democrats have been monitoring the situation for months and are well aware of the Republican rise under DeSantis.
“It feels a little bit like we’re kind of set up to fail,” an unnamed Florida Democratic official told The Hill in September. “It’s not one person’s fault. A lot of these problems have existed for years. But for a party that has been decimated in the last few elections and especially the last one, I’m not seeing a sense of urgency yet.”
In 2008, registered Democrats outnumbered Republicans by 700,000 voters.
Last September, that gap had closed to about 23,000.
Now, Republicans are up over 120,000.
Other Democratic leaders in the state aren’t making excuses, however.
“At the end of the day all eligible voters can walk into a polling place and vote, not just active voters, and Democrats still hold the lead with eligible voters,” Jose Parra, a spokesperson for the Florida Democratic Party, told Politico on Wednesday.
“Republicans have been playing shell games with our voters by disproportionately moving massive numbers of people who can still vote to inactive status and have purged many others from the list altogether,” he added.
But the fact is, Republicans have dominated the state for a number of election cycles now, and with an increase in registered voters, then it doesn’t seem likely that Democratic prospects moving forward are good.
Steve Schale, a longtime Florida Democratic strategist, told Democrats earlier this fall that they could be in huge trouble going forward.
“Without a full-frontal, professional and accountable partisan effort to turn it around, sometime before the end of this year, there will be more Republicans registered in Florida than Democrats,” he wrote on his blog.