Ron DeSantis’ narrow win in Tuesday’s election for governor will bring an unprecedented expansion of conservative Republican power in Tallahassee.
Democrats haven’t won a governor’s race since 1994. They haven’t controlled the state House or Senate since the mid-1990s. They lost their last Cabinet member in 2010.
Now, with DeSantis’ election, that conservative Republican influence will extend to the Florida Supreme Court, which has a 4-3 liberal majority that has blocked many initiatives advanced by the Republican-led Legislature and Gov. Rick Scott.
As he takes office on Jan. 8, DeSantis, a 40-year-old former congressman from Ponte Vedra Beach, will have the power to appoint three new members of the state’s highest court, replacing three justices who are part of the liberal bloc and who have reached a mandatory retirement age.
DeSantis, a Harvard-educated lawyer, has said that he will appoint conservative justices who are “solid constitutionalists.”
Talking to reporters Tuesday night in Orlando, DeSantis said his court appointees “will be very, very smart, very principled people, but they’re going to understand that their role is to apply the law and not rewrite the law.” He said the appointments will bring an end to “judicial activism” on the court.
The appointments may also have a lasting impact since voters approved a constitutional amendment Tuesday that will allow the new justices, as well as other judges throughout the state, to serve until they are 75 years old, up from the current mandatory retirement age of 70.
A conservative majority on the Supreme Court is likely to be more deferential to initiatives advanced by DeSantis and the Legislature, where the GOP on Tuesday maintained a solid majority in the House and at least 23 seats in the 40-member Senate.
But in his victory speech, DeSantis talked little about partisan politics and emphasized the need as the state’s next governor to work with all Floridians, including those who opposed him.
“Political campaigns are a rough business and often about highlighting our differences. And, unfortunately, in this day and age they often spiral into outright demagoguery,” DeSantis said. “But governing is different. Governing is about getting things done on behalf of the people of Florida, keeping our economy going, improving our water quality and environment, promoting public safety and expanding educational opportunities.
“We need to build a Florida that is cleaner, safer, stronger and that will be my guiding light as governor,” he said.
DeSantis said one area where he might unite Floridians will be behind an effort to address the problems of toxic algae and red tide and on moving forward with plans to restore the Florida Everglades.
“I think the first priority in terms of what is really urgent for Florida is really getting us on a strong track on water quality and the environment,” he said.
DeSantis said he would use his relationship with President Donald Trump, who held campaign rallies for him, to advance the federal portions of the effort, including the creation of a reservoir near Lake Okeechobee to help divert and treat polluted water.
“I think you’re going to get tired of me calling you, asking you for things for Florida,” DeSantis said about Trump. “But I look forward to that. I think we’ll have a great partnership.”
DeSantis will also have willing partners in the Florida House and Senate. Incoming House Speaker Jose Oliva, R-Miami Lakes, was an early supporter of DeSantis. The newly elected lieutenant governor, state Rep. Jeanette Nunez, R-Miami, will also help DeSantis navigate the legislative process.
Lawmakers and the new governor are likely to find common ground on issues such as tax cuts, opposition to expanding Medicaid and the creation of more educational “choice” programs like charter schools and scholarships to send students to private schools.
DeSantis is also a strong supporter of gun rights, meaning any gun-control efforts are not likely to advance, and is open to restrictions on abortions. In the Republican primary, he voiced support for a “heartbeat bill,” which would prohibit doctors from providing abortions if fetal heartbeats can be detected.
As U.S. Navy veteran who served in the Iraq war, DeSantis will also find legislative support for his efforts to support active military members and veterans in the state.
One of DeSantis’ biggest challenges will be moving from a legislative branch, where he served nearly three terms in Congress, to the chief executive of the nation’s third-largest state.
DeSantis is taking over a huge enterprise, and one of his first tasks will be shaping a state budget proposal for 2019-2020 that is likely to be in excess of $89 billion.
He also must appoint a host of state agency heads overseeing areas such as education, health care, transportation and prisons.
Even prior to Tuesday’s election, DeSantis said he was putting together a transition plan for taking over from Scott, who leads in a U.S. Senate race that is expected to require a recount.
“You have to put together a government. I mean that’s a lot of work,” DeSantis said. “We have been doing this quietly behind the scenes, not to be presumptuous, but just because you don’t have enough time. You have to start doing it.”
–Lloyd Dunkleberger, News Service of Florida
Voter Says says
I am so excited to see what Ron is going to do as our next Governor. I am beyond happy that Scott is no longer Governor of Florida. From what has been reported about Scott making millions as Governor a investigation needs to be initiated and get to the bottom of that. We don’t need politicians that are using their position to benefit themselves. I am saddened that Scott is now looking to be a State Senator, but am glad that a Republican won that seat. The division of the country on party is absurd and has divided this county. People need to get to a more realistic state of mind of what is better for all, and not what will benefit a few. A reality check is needed by many as views and options are so liberal and out of hand—what happened to morals and values. I often wonder what people use today to guide them and their thoughts. It is obvious since the bible has been pushed aside there are lots of lost souls out there. That is our guide book people!!!!
This is the only reason he wanted to be Governor. He has no plan outside of appointing new justices. Straight out of his mouth too. DeSantis is just another “talk the talk but doesn’t walk the walk” politician. Sure, for a while there he seemed to back what he was saying and then the special interest groups came calling with wads of cash, gifts, and so on. He is a swindler, and a snake-oil salesman like all politicians. One day the public will wake up and realize not a single politician from Governor, to Senator, to Representative, to President actually cares about the citizens they represent…unless it’s voting season. If they did, they wouldn’t use social issues, where people will naturally disagree, to fire up their base, and cause a perpetual stream of hateful vitriol from all sides. All I know is I am much happier with myself and others when I avoid politics and political discussions. What do we have here on this planet, 70, 80, 90 years if lucky. I’m not wasting my time anymore on people that only care about their own interests. I’m going to enjoy my life…just don’t take away my right to do so in the process.
I would rather have had DeSantis than the other guy who wanted to raise taxes, and turn Fla into a duplicate of California or worst. OF course we all are speculating because the guy hasn’t even started his job yet,.
@Voter Says… you do realize that your concerns about Scott have already been investigated, nothing found. What you are hearing is just the propaganda from the other side. Just like what each side does to each other. I wish we had better options to chose from besides Desantis and Scott, but the choices from the other side were much worse. Just like the past Presidential election. We took the best that was offered. As far as the title of this article, replace the wore “Desantis” with “Republican” and I would be happier. Again, just sad that he is the best we had to offer.
What happened to morals and values? really? the trunpster is the most immoral president in our history. He makes Bill Clinton look like an angel .And if desantis is so enamored with the trumpster, what does that say about him?
Does anyone believe in omens
Yawn,,, “Show me” Ron, talks cheap, just ask your boss errrr President friend
“Elections have consequences” Barack Hussein Obama Nov 17 2012.
I have followed Ron Desantis for many years. At first I just randomly signed up for email alerts for Republican representative in my area. I have watched Ron do very good things in this area of Florida. I agree on a lot of his views and have seen him disagree if things were not right Republican or Democratic. I do feel he uses common sense and supports all of us. To me he has earned his role. He is a real veteran. He fights corruption. So if people here in Palm Coast really thought they knew Gillum from Tallahassee I would be surprised. Do not cast your vote on the shallow knowledge of last minute races. The elections do not tell the truth the of a person. Their actions tell the truth. We all voted and Ron won. Time to support the governor and let him do his job. Being a nay sayer now is pointless. Good luck to all of us and that the elected will do there jobs for the rights of us people!
“What happened to morals and values? really? the trunpster is the most immoral president in our history. He makes Bill Clinton look like an angel .”
@makeitso1701, clearly you love Bill Clinton to make such a preposterous statement. Not saying President Trump is an angel, however, making the claim BC is anything other than the slimeball politician, and should be considered in the top ten offender of the “me too” movement, is laughable.