After a week that started with a few bumps along the campaign trail for Ron DeSantis, the Republican gubernatorial candidate for governor is looking to end the week on a more positive note.
DeSantis appeared at a news conference Thursday morning in Orlando with officials from the Florida Chamber of Commerce who endorsed his candidacy for governor. The Chamber said he was the candidate best suited to continue the economic momentum of the past eight years under Gov. Rick Scott.
Thursday’s announcement by the Chamber follows Wednesday evening’s announcement by the DeSantis campaign of the addition of Susie Wiles as campaign chairman. Wiles is known as an experienced campaign manager, having served as Florida’s Senior Strategist for President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign. In 2010, she served as Governor Rick Scott’s campaign manager for his successful bid for Governor.
“I’m excited to have Susie join our team as Campaign Chairman. She has the knowledge, expertise and acumen to carry our message to voters all across Florida. With her winning record, Susie is the ideal person to lead our campaign efforts and help us secure a big victory come November,” said DeSantis.
A statement issued by the campaign calls Wiles one of Florida’s top GOP strategists. She currently serves as a partner at Ballard Partners, and works out of the firm’s offices in Jacksonville and Washington, D.C.
“Florida’s future depends on building upon the successes of our state’s outstanding Republican leadership. Ron DeSantis is the only candidate who will lead Florida forward and help our state and its people realize their full potential,” said Wiles. With so much at stake for our state in this election, I am honored to lead his campaign team, and look forward to working with Floridians everywhere to elect Ron as our governor.”
Word of Wiles addition as campaign chairman followed the release of two polls earlier this week that showed DeSantis continuing to trail his Democratic opponent, Andrew Gillum. A poll conducted by the University of North Florida on Monday had Gillum with a 4-point lead. But, a Quinnipiac University survey released Wednesday had Gillum up by 9-points, 54 percent to 45 percent, his biggest lead to date.
On Tuesday, DeSantis decried Gillum’s ties to anti-Israel groups, as well as what he called a “double standard” by reporters in covering the two candidates and their connections to extreme organizations on both ends of the political spectrum. DeSantis says his relations with far right groups are always put under the microscope by the media, while Gillum’s connections to groups on the far left get a free pass.
DeSantis has also faced a barrage of attacks from Gillum and Democrats for his record on healthcare. They claim DeSantis’ record on eliminating protections for patients with pre-existing conditions has jeopardized the health insurance of people.
The DeSantis campaign will be looking forward to good news from Thursday morning’s announcement by the Florida Chamber of Commerce, as well as to the addition of Wiles as she gets to work to get the DeSantis campaign back on track.