Ron DeSantis Draws a Crowd In Blue County for His First Campaign Stop Since Hurricane Ian

On his first day returning to the trail Florida’s Governor attracted an impressive number in enemy territory.

After weeks of overseeing recovery efforts on Florida’s west coast in the wake of Hurricane Ian, Ron DeSantis fired up his campaign efforts once again with scheduled stops across the state. After a visit to The Villages outside Orlando, he made it down to South Florida into the traditionally Democratic party enclave of Broward County. The turnout was enough to turn heads.

This tour stop was in the city of Coral Springs at Wings Plus, a fixture in the area, owned by Brian Walsh, a longtime Republican backer. The location is a common stop for GOP figures, but even Sunday’s appearance by the governor stood out. Taking the stage in the parking lot to address the impressive turnout is a revealing sight in the county that traditionally can be described as being navy blue.

DeSantis spoke comfortably as he bravely sported a black shirt on the sunny Florida afternoon (in true Florida Man fashion), spending just over half an hour behind the microphone as he delivered his familiar extemporaneous style that connects with the people, based on the regular cheers he elicited. He heard approval from the gathered crowd for both his touted accomplishments but also his proposals for his next term as governor.

His campaign leans heavily on the state being the place for freedom, as mentioned in his opening, before delivering his core messaging. He touched on the work done with the hurricane recovery efforts, highlighting the rapid bridge repairs to the outlying islands that had seen those areas cut off from direct access.

DeSantis also brought up the death penalty, something he said needed to be strengthened with new legislation. This is notable for a number of well-known reasons. This week the shooter of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas massacre was sentenced to life in prison, a result that was not warmly greeted in the area; DeSantis was speaking just a few miles from the school. Underscoring things was one of the advanced speakers Andrew Pollack, the father turned activist after his daughter was one of the victims in that shooting.

Of course, a number of his familiar issues were brought up, from election integrity and parental rights in school law, which had been a lightning rod topic in the press the first half of this year. He also brought up his most recent hot-button action, the immigrant flight to Martha’s Vineyard which he spearheaded last month. Clearly not shying away from that item, he instead used it as a way to move on to his proposed agenda.

Immigration would be one of his targeted issues in a second term, as would be a series of targeted tax relief aims for the citizens of this state. Not broad budgetary tax cuts but spending tax relief is his aim, peeling back taxes on a variety of items from baby goods, as well other family-centered items such as reading material and sports equipment for youth leagues, as well as doubling the tax-free dates for back-to-school supplies. DeSantis even plans to extend this to include pet food purchases.

Before taking the stage the governor addressed the gathered crowd inside the location, hitting on a very revealing metric in Florida. The deepening of the red hue statewide is seen in the voter registration numbers, something the GOP has improved upon even while absorbing a flood of residents relocating from Blue states. It is always a theory that they will import their liberal leanings, but this past February saw Republican voter registration surpass those of the Democratic Party. The governor told the crowd that the number has only become greater.

This contrasts with his election opponent Charlie Crist, who has been stumping mostly in favorable regions of late and not generating what one might call a wave of support. The contrast in the crowds has been itself telling. He has been campaigning repeatedly in another blue foothold, Palm Beach County, and speaking to “a room full of Democrats.” This was on display again Sunday, as Crist spoke in Palm Beach Gardens, and the turnout comparison says plenty.

The enthusiasm and momentum behind DeSantis are readily apparent, both across the state and with conservatives nationwide, and his popularity is underscored by the hostility generated in much of the press. It was only highlighted Sunday not because it was witnessed firsthand but for where it took place. This level of excitement generated in what is generally considered to be the most Democrat-leaning county in the state speaks volumes about the upcoming election just weeks away.

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