Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who won re-election with a bang on Tuesday in the US midterm elections, now finds himself in a strong position to enter the presidential race.
“If he wants to go, I don’t really see what should prevent him. It’s not quite a highway, but it’s still spectacular as a result, ”commented political analyst Rafael Jacob, who is attached to the Raoul-Dandurand Chair at the University of Quebec in Montreal, on Wednesday.
By beating his Democratic opponent by 20 percentage points, the Republican politician obtained “the largest margin of victory in 40 years, all parties combined, for the post of governor in Florida”, notes Mr. Jacob.
This result, he notes, makes ex-Republican President Donald Trump look bad, who is annoyed by a possible candidacy from his former protege for the Republican nomination for the 2024 election.
The former head of state saw several of the candidates he backed in key states bite the dust or underperform in midterm elections, including in the senatorial race in Pennsylvania, where Democratic Lt. Governor John Fetterman edged out Republican candidate Mehmet Öz.
Leader on paper
Many American media did not hesitate to openly suggest on Wednesday that Mr. DeSantis was now the leader in the race for the Republican nomination even if the principal concerned is careful not to make his intentions known on this plan for the time being.
We have accomplished more in four years than anyone imagined. But there is still so much to do and I have only just begun to fight.
Ron DeSantis, re-elected governor of Florida, in his victory speech on Tuesday
Supporters present shouted, “Two more years! Two more years! “, thus suggesting that he would eventually cut short his new term as governor to run for the presidency.
His victory on Tuesday contrasts sharply with the one, by half a percentage point, he had obtained in 2018 to become governor.
The lawyer by training, who had sat for a few years in the House of Representatives, was little known and had managed to win the Republican nomination for the position thanks to the support of Donald Trump.
The president had backed his candidacy, hailing his tough stance on border management and crime as well as his enthusiasm for tax cuts.
From COVID-19 to woke
Mr. DeSantis subsequently gained national visibility by strongly opposing the health restrictions adopted by the administration of President Joe Biden to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
He has also multiplied the laws aimed at countering what he calls the “ideology woke which he presents as a threat to the traditional American way of life.
The politician made headlines by notably introducing a bill that prevents all teaching on issues related to sexual orientation and gender identity to young students. The measure is being challenged in court.
The governor has also acted remarkably recently on the issue of immigration by transporting migrants from Mexico to Democratic cities in the north.
Conservative, but not like Trump
Ron DeSantis practices an assumed conservatism that echoes several themes dear to Donald Trump, but acts in a much less erratic way, notes Mr. Jacob.
The Republican Party’s elite may see him as an interesting alternative way to win the next presidential election and encourage him, with money to back it up, to take the leap against his former mentor.
Whether [DeSantis] managed to attract all the anti-Trump or non-Trump votes within the formation, he would have a chance of winning the primary.
Rafael Jacob, from the Raoul-Dandurand Chair of the University of Quebec in Montreal
The ex-president publicly warned Ron DeSantis earlier this week that his entry into the race for the Republican nomination risked being “damaging” to him. He also threatened Tuesday, without further details, to disclose embarrassing information about him to discourage him from moving forward.
Donald Trump’s warnings come a few days before a press conference where many analysts expect him to formalize his intention to be a candidate in the next presidential election.
After the midterm poll, “he does it from a position of weakness,” notes Mr. Jacob, who does not expect Ron DeSantis to quickly reveal his own intentions on this subject.