All eyes will be on the Sunshine State as Democrats resolute to unseat controversial Republican incumbents vie for two of the most sought-after offices in the state, if not country.
Let the competition begin! As Democrats ramp up their efforts to unseat Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis in 2022, a new poll suggests not all Floridians support the governor’s move to ban so-called “vaccine passports” or crack down on mail-in balloting and drop boxes.
The poll conducted by SEA Polling & Strategic Design showed that those surveyed opposed voting restrictions by a 56% to 37% margin, and that 49% backed businesses being able to require proof of vaccinations, compared to 40% who did not.
Could this apparent “disconnect” between DeSantis and Floridians be the opening Democrats need to beat the incumbent?
The Push to Make DeSantis “a One-Term Governor”
Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried has officially entered the race for governor in 2022, which promises to make the race against Republican incumbent Ron DeSantis one of the most high-profile governor contests in the country.
The only statewide elected Democrat in Florida, Fried has long been a strong vocal opponent of DeSantis, going as far as calling him a dictator bent on destroying democracy in Florida because of his restrictive voting laws that opponents claim will disproportionally affect minorities.
After declaring that he “must be a one-term governor,” Fried told Politico that she decided to run for governor “because I’ve stood up my whole life for those who have needed a fighter.”
But to vie against DeSantis she will have to best another strong contender: Charlie Crist, who during his announcement for the 2022 gubernatorial race, made known his vision for “a Florida for all” with a promise to make it easier to vote, expand Medicaid, and invest in the state’s crumbling infrastructure, among other issues.
However, the congress member from the 13th District has built a record of working across the aisle to make meaningful change, which can be a great political tool in GOP-led Florida.
A Contentious Race for the Senate
As Democrats look to defend their slim majority in the Senate from Republicans vying to win back the congressional power they lost in 2020, the election that will be held on Nov. 8, 2022 to elect a member of the Senate to represent the state of Florida has been declared one of the most competitive in the Sunshine State.
The reason is that it pits incumbent Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, who has announced that he will run for reelection to a third term, against Democratic rivals who bring a more progressive platform to the contest in a state ruled by the GOP.
There are 10 Democratic candidates looking to unseat Rubio, but a potential top contender is Representative Val Demings, who is expected to announce her Senate bid in the coming days. Demings has been called “a powerhouse candidate like Democrats haven’t had run for Senate in decades,” and “the candidate Democrats need now” by political strategists.
That is because analysts believe her background as a police chief prepares her to tackle two of the most urgent issues facing the country: systemic racism and police reform. However, Democratic strategist José Parra prognosticates that should she run, Demings will do well with the Black vote, but will need to “triple and quadruple down on the Hispanic vote,” which makes up approximately 17% of the state’s electorate.
Election experts agree Demings’ messaging needs to be bilingual and unequivocally reject the stigma of socialism, which Republicans have used to their advantage in Florida, where the issue concerns many who came from Communist-ruled Latin American countries like Cuba and Venezuela.