Support for 'desperate' DeSantis sinks as COVID death toll surpasses his election margin of victory: columnist
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In a column for the Daily Beast, longtime political observer Eleanor Clift writes that Gov. Ron DeSantis' intransigence on dealing with the COVID-19 crisis that is engulfing his state is harming his popularity, which could impact his chances of winning re-election.

Clift claimed that DeSantis's star is fading and only his most loyal fans are happy with his performance. Now that Florida is home to 1 of 5 new COVID-19 infections in the country, Clift noted that the Florida COVID-19 death toll passed a grim number that could come back to haunt the Florida Republican.

"DeSantis was elected governor in 2018 with a margin of victory of just 0.4 percent, or 32,000 votes. Florida's official COVID death count is now 39,695, a chilling reminder about the public health impact of DeSantis' policies, and the fact that politics is about addition, not subtraction," she wrote before adding, "Democrat Charlie Crist is now running even with DeSantis, according to a new poll this month. Crist was governor of Florida from 2007 to 2011 as a Republican and, after switching parties, is now a member of Congress who looks poised to give DeSantis a real fight."

Writing, "DeSantis looked like a man desperate to find a way to avoid blame," the columnist noted "on the day that Florida had its highest count to that date of new COVID cases (21,683), DeSantis signed an executive order empowering the state Board of Education to withhold funding from any school district forcing students to wear masks."

Clift added the GOP lawmaker is now being taken to task in the states' newspapers.

A recent editorial in the Florida Sun-Sentinel hammered the governor for meddling with Broward County schools by bluntly stating, "If you vote in Broward, you chose nine school board members to run schools, not DeSantis. He got less than 32% of the vote in Broward in the 2018 election. He's governor, not an emperor. School board members are accountable to local voters. Let them decide how to keep our schools safe."

According to the columnist, more trouble is on the way for DeSantis.

"One thorn in his side could be the return of Rebekah Jones, the health data analyst state officials fired after she shared her concerns about data being withheld last year to make the overall picture of the virus appear rosier than it was. The 32-year-old Jones is running for Congress as an Independent against the scandal-ridden Rep. Matt Gaetz," Clift reported, adding, "Jones has been granted whistleblower status by the state of Florida, and her claims will be investigated, and potentially upheld as credible. Her website identifies her as a 'scientist…whistleblower…fighter,' and her presence could be one more reminder of all the credibility DeSantis has squandered."

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