Why No Florida Politician Has Ever Become a US Presidential Candidate: Can Ron DeSantis Break the Curse?

A year and a half before the 2024 US presidential election and a few months from the start of the primaries, the lines are gradually emerging on the side of the Republican Party. The conservatives formalize their candidacy one after the other: the ex-president Donald Trumpthe former Governor of South Carolina Nikki Haleythe senator Tim Scottthe former governor of Arkansas Asa Hutchinsonthe contractor Vivek Ramaswamythe former vice-president Mike Penceand soon to be ex-Governor of New Jersey Chris Christie. But it is Ron DeSantis, now famous governor of Florida, who is the number one contender for the former president, according to the various polling institutes.

Credited with just over 20% of the voting intentions, he is still far from the leader of the “Make America Great Again” movement, credited with around 50% of the votes and who multiplies the attacks or mockery to discredit him. While there is still enough time for the trend to reverse, Ron DeSantis must also face a less discussed sizeable problem: no Florida politician has so far succeeded in becoming the candidate for the presidential election of one of the two major American political parties.

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A cursed state?

When Florida is at the center of a conversation, the first things that usually come to mind are sun, beaches, Miami, amusement parks, including Disney Worldor the everglades. Recreation, therefore, mainly. Despite the multiplication of the front pages of American newspapers following the policies put in place by Ron DeSantis, especially on educationthe sunny state (Sunshine State) is still not really considered a political land of primary importance, unlike Texas, Illinois, California or even the states of the rust beltthe industrial region of the northeastern United States, such as Michigan.

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And for good reason, no Florida elected official has ever been able to sit behind le Resolute desk of the Oval Office, or even to represent the Democratic or Republican Party in a presidential election. An anomaly for the third most populous state in the United States who was, until Donald Trump came to power in 2016, and swing state (“pivotal state”) being able to switch from one camp to another every four years and determine the president of the first world power.

According to Politico, half a dozen candidates representing the State have tried the adventure in recent decades. The last two, Jeb Bushgovernor of the state in the 2000s, and senator marco rubioeven had a good chance of representing the conservatives in 2016, but ended up being soundly beaten by Donald Trump in the Republican primary, thus prolonging the curse a little more.

To explain this phenomenon, the online news site highlights Florida’s reputation: “It produces a lot of things besides the headlines – sugar, oranges and exceptional winter strawberries, to name a few of its exports. But it is above all a place where you go to escape, to play. This lack of seriousness, like it or not, sticks to the skin of local politicians, who do not get the same respect as those in states whose identities are built around more traditional industries. It is therefore better to be from Michigan or Pennsylvania to hope to participate in a presidential election. Or even toHawaii, Barack Obama’s birth state.

Chaotic beginnings

So for Politico, Ron DeSantis’ problem isn’t really the current resident of the White House, the Democrat. Joe Biden, not even former President Donald Trump, but his state and the weight of history. The current governor of Florida leaves with a ball in the foot in the race for the Republican nomination. And these are neither his confused entry into the campaign nor his favorite themes which for the time being suggest a future different from that of his predecessors.

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Made official during a “Space” on Twitterin the company of his support Elon Musk, during which the bugs were repeated, his declaration of candidacy was not a great success and was the subject of a lot of mockery. To the point thata new nickname, “DeSaster” (contraction of “DeSantis” and “disaster”), has appeared, to the delight of supporters of Donald Trump.

This failure, coupled with its inability to deploy a program that goes beyond the denunciation of “wokism” and health policies during the Covid-19 pandemic, make the new strongman from the southern United States a candidate with electoral potential that questions. His stated desire to apply the policy he leads in Florida to the whole country is a more than risky bet. We must indeed convince the whole of the conservative electorate to choose him rather than Donald Trump who, for his part, adopts a more populist posture, sometimes less right-wing (yes, you read correctly) particularly promising in the States of the rust beltoften decisive in primaries and elections.

Despite his weaknesses and his delay, Ron DeSantis could still find a space allowing him to win the Republican nomination, by betting in particular on the successive electoral failures of the former president, in order to appear as the only credible candidate to make against the Democrats in November 2024. The spotlight, which has been on Florida for some time, may also help him in his conquest of the conservative electorate.

But if he fails to lead the Republican Party by then and end the curse of the Florida Manthe inhabitants of his state will always be able to console themselves with Donald Trump who, let us remember, has been for a few years now fully established at Mar-a-Lagohis luxurious residence set among the palm trees of a coastal town north of Miami, where one of his golf resorts is also located.

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2023-06-07 06:00:00

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