In the Trumpified GOP of 2020, the battle among Republicans over who is or isn’t sufficiently supportive of President Donald Trump be downright silly. Many Republicans fear that being accused of being insufficiently pro-Trump could be the political kiss of death. And Politico’s Matt Dixon reports that in the important swing state of Florida, some of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ fellow Republicans are accusing him of not doing enough to help Trump win reelection.
In 2018’s gubernatorial race, the far-right DeSantis narrowly defeated the Democratic nominee: former Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum. DeSantis, more than anyone, knows how much of a battleground state Florida can be: Gillum, who was endorsed by Sen. Bernie Sanders, ran to the left and just barely lost — while DeSantis ran as a Trump loyalist and just barely won.
“DeSantis was a Trump loyalist when the president helped propel the two-term Republican congressman into the governor’s mansion in 2018,” Dixon explains. “But Trump’s Republican allies in Florida now are spreading the word — behind the governor’s back — that DeSantis isn’t doing enough to repay the political debt.”
It remains to be seen whether 2020’s Democratic presidential nominee will be Sanders or former Vice President Joe Biden; following Super Tuesday, the primary is essentially a two-person competition between Biden and Sanders. And Biden’s supporters are arguing that he would have an easier time winning Florida’s 29 electoral votes than Sanders. Florida, a state that went to President Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012 and to Trump in 2016, could turn out to be a real nail-biter on Election Night.
Some of the Florida Republicans quoted in Dixon’s article insist that there is no tension between Trump and DeSantis, including Rep. Matt Gaetz and Alia Faraj-Johnson (a spokesperson for the Florida GOP). But others Dixon quotes don’t see it that way. An anonymously quoted source described by Dixon as a “Trump campaign staffer” told Politico, “It might not be a DeSantis problem, but there is definitely a fucking problem.”
That source also told Politico, “Florida doesn’t have a political leader at the moment who is working to reelect the president. The state party doesn’t seem to be building a significant ground game because they lack resources and direction.”
Another GOP source in Florida, described by Dixon as “a person familiar with party finances,” told Politico that a “growing point of friction” between DeSantis and “Trump’s reelection” is “the money raised from” a Republican dinner in Florida in December. According to that source, “The lack of money being available to the general party is making people around the president suspicious of what the governor is trying to accomplish.”