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Democrats ‘Deprioritize’ Challenging Ron DeSantis in 2022

The Democratic Governors Association (DGA) on Friday has reportedly decided to “deprioritize” defeating Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) in 2022 and fund other gubernatorial races that are more likely to be won, an indication Florida is no longer a swing state.

The decision to essentially concede Florida to Republicans is a blow to Democrat candidates, Rep. Charlie Crist (D-FL) and Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services Nikki Fried (D), who were hoping to turn the tide of Democrat defeat of elections in the past two decades.

Instead of investing in defeating Florida’s gubernatorial race, the DGA will invest in races in Massachusetts, Maryland, and Arizona, two Florida Democrat consultants conveyed to Politico.

“DeSantis is looking strong politically and financially, and there are states like Massachusetts, Maryland, and Arizona where they see potential pickups on top of incumbent protection,” one consultant told Politico. “They might do some money, but they are not going the way they have been in the past. There are not going to be multi-million-dollar checks.”

The DGA has been a major financial backer in trying to defeat Republicans. In 2014, Democrat Charlie Crist, a current House member and former Republican governor, was given $7 million by the DGA in his defeat of former Gov. Rick Scott. In the next election, disgraced and defeated Democrat candidate Andrew Gillum was given $7.6 million by the DGA to defeat DeSantis in 2018.

Rep. Charlie Crist, D-Fla., walks on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021 (Susan Walsh, AP Images).

 

Andrew Gillum the Democratic candidate for Florida Governor speaks during a campaign rally at the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades on August 31, 2018 in Orlando, Florida. Mr. Gillum is facing off against his Republican challenger Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) in the November 6th election. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Andrew Gillum (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

After multiple gubernatorial losses, the state has moved further red. As a result, the millions of dollars from the DGA will reportedly be redirected to other races, leaving Florida Republicans to likely retain the governorship. As Democrat money leaves the state, Republican money, too, will also likely be redesigned to other states.

“What they are not realizing is that if Florida is not competitive, where do you think a good chunk of that Republican spending is going? Straight to the Midwest and Georgia,” executive director of the Florida Alliance Ray Paultre told Politico. “National donors and organizations are worried about protecting the Midwest.

A DGA staffer also explained to Politico the political organization prioritizes protecting Democrat incumbents before it looks to unseat Republicans. “DGA does not look at things in a vacuum,” the Democrat employee said. “We have a lot of races in 2022, and Florida requires, what, $6 to $10 million? That’s a lot.”

Overall, Democrats across the state of Florida have experienced shocking losses. For instance, then-Democrat Reps. Donna Shalala and Debbie Mucarsel-Powell lost their South Florida seats in 2020’s surprising upset. In 2016, failed presidential candidate Hillary Clinton won their districts by double digits.

Scott Eisen/Getty Images

Democrat voter registration has also not kept pace with Republican efforts. When former President Barack Obama campaigned for office in Florida in 2008, the Florida Democratic Party had 700,000 more registered voters than Republicans.

In January 2021, that number had shrunk to 100,000. In October, Republicans had further cut into the Democrats’ lead, only trailing by 24,000.

“Voter registration is immensely important, but it’s not the end-all be-all,” a national Democrat strategist told to the Hill. “With the political landscape in 2022 being what it is, it’d be smart for us to try to pad out voter registration as much as possible, because part of this is a numbers game.”

Follow Wendell Husebø on Twitter @WendellHusebø

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