The Republican governors of Texas and Florida are in an informal competition to be the most Trumpian leader.
In a new analysis, Bloomberg News noted that a half day after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott banned vaccine mandates, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis floated legislation to do the same.
"It's a tit-for-tat that's been playing out for months between the best-known Republican governors in the U.S. — and potential presidential candidates in 2024. Abbott and DeSantis, both lawyers by trade, have followed similar political playbooks over the past few years when it comes to showing their conservative bona fides, from banning mask mandates in schools, to calling for harsh clamp-downs on undocumented immigrants," Bloomberg News noted.
Both candidates are considered 2024 presidential hopefuls.
"The rivalry shows how Republicans in two of the biggest states are under pressure to pursue the types of populist efforts that would please Donald Trump and his loyalists, even at the risk of alienating moderates and businesses worried about recruiting candidates turned off by restrictive social policies," Bloomberg News explained. "Hard-line approaches like curtailing school rules aimed at coronavirus safety are losers in polls, but rules framed as expanding 'freedom' serve as an extension of Trump's fire-up-the-base strategy. Far from turning the page on Trump's GOP, both men are trying to out-Trump one another."
Aubrey Jewett, a political science professor at the University of Central Florida, described the two as "frenemies."
One may have a clear advantage.
"For now, DeSantis may be coming out ahead in the quest to establish his credentials nationally, already sitting atop some early polls for the Republican spot on the 2024 presidential ballot assuming Trump doesn't run. The 43-year-old former U.S. congressman has experienced a swift rise since he landed Trump's endorsement in the 2018 GOP primary for Florida governor, which he parlayed into a surprise victory in America's largest swing state. He's been broadly aligned with Trump ever since," Bloomberg News explained. "DeSantis' political action committee had raised more money than Abbott's through the first six months of the year — $36.2 million to $20.9 million — and did so from a large pool of out-of-state donors, led by Citadel's Kenneth Griffin, who gave $5 million."
Read the full analysis.