A New Republican Powerhouse Emerges

Florida GOP Governor Ron DeSantis is increasingly utilizing his weight among Republican primary voters to promote his supporters across the state.

This is signaling the first serious attempt by a president with a very limited inner circle to develop a political network.

The Golden Handshake

In two elections, the Republican governor is making signs that he will endorse senior Republican state legislators who have the backing of the state Senate Washington establishment.

DeSantis’ public backing resembles that of previous President Trump, who has endorsed his preferred candidates with varied results.

“Gov. DeSantis is by far the most powerful candidate I’ve seen among the grassroots in a great many years,” said Evan Power, chair of the Republican Party of Florida’s board of directors.

“With our voters, his recommendations are gold. It appears the governor is now leveraging those endorsements to develop a network of Tallahassee legislators who share his battle attitude and will help him pass hard conservative objectives.”

DeSantis is seeking supporters who share his ideological views inside the Florida legislature and beyond. The supporters also deliver a signal to Republican lawmakers that he’s willing to go against their wishes in order to solidify authority.

DeSantis, whose organization did not respond to a request for comment, has a history of being stingy with his support, only using it in exceptional circumstances and often only when his chosen candidate is extremely certain to win.

That altered last month when DeSantis endorsed state Rep. Blaise Ingoglia (R-Spring Hill) in a race for Florida Senator contested by fellow House Republican Ralph Massullo (R-Lecanto).

Republican senators, notably incoming Senate President Kathleen Passidomo, backed Massullo.

Passidomo told Politico on the same day DeSantis endorsed Ingoglia in mid-March that “all alternatives” were still on the table for the Florida Republican senatorial re-election campaign, which is overseen by the incoming Senate president.

The Governor Has Clout

Massullo announced his decision to drop out of the Senate race to remain in the House two days later.

He claimed he has “utmost love and appreciation” for the governor, whose backing for Ingoglia pushed him out of a pivotal Florida Senate election.

“From a tactical political sense,” Ingoglia said in a teleconference, “Governor DeSantis’ support is the most powerful force in a Florida Republican race right now.”

“With 76 percent of voters in the state more inclined to vote for a DeSantis-endorsed candidate, the fervor of the support is off the charts.”

“It’s a real game-changer,” said Ingoglia, a strong DeSantis ally who’s one of seven House Republicans who voted against the governor’s planned redistricting maps, which DeSantis eventually vetoed.

Governor DeSantis’ ability to rapidly clean the field for his favored candidate has sparked conjecture about who he will support next.