When Gov. Ron DeSantis won the governor’s seat in November defeating his Democratic opponent Andrew Gillum, he did so in a close race that required a machine recount. DeSantis won by just 30,000 votes. The race featured sharp, negative attacks from both sides and left many asking how the new governor would unify the state.
“For the folks who didn’t vote for me, I am representing them as governor, too,” DeSantis said the day before he took the oath of office.
“I think at the end of the day, the vast majority of the voters in Florida, they want to see results,” he added. “And, so, if we’re producing results on environment, economy, those things, to me that’s the best thing that you could do for the folks that weren’t necessarily for you in the election.”
Producing results is exactly what DeSantis has done on a daily basis since he was inaugurated two weeks ago on Tuesday. Those results have not pleased everyone, but most give the new governor credit for the way he has hit the ground running, or more like sprinting.
With some exceptions, DeSantis has impressed even his critics.
His lieutenant governor told the Miami Herald on Sunday that they are just doing what they promised voters during the campaign.
“If you look at the campaign promises that we made, the expectation from every Floridian, regardless of whether they voted for us or not, was we were going to lead and we were going to act,” Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nuñez, who has so far played an unusually active role in what is traditionally a largely ceremonial post, said in an interview. “He’s serious about getting things done. It’s not just about campaign promises and rhetoric.”
It’s hard to imagine DeSantis maintaining this pace much longer, but his Communications Office says that’s just what he intends to do.
“Governor DeSantis pledged a bold vision for (a) brighter future and you can expect continued energy in the coming weeks,” the Governor’s Press Office said Monday.
DeSantis started his third week on the job by attending an early Monday morning Martin Luther King Jr. Day event at Piney Grove Boys Academy in Lauderdale Lakes. He later attended the Unity Heritage Festival in Winter Park.
He’s coming off a two-week period that saw him already appoint two conservative justices to the Florida Supreme Court, unveil a new environmental policy to restore the Everglades and protect the state’s water supply and he twice visited the Panhandle area devastated by Hurricane Michael to let residents there know the state hasn’t forgotten them as they struggle to rebuild their communities and their lives.
He and members of the Florida Cabinet, sitting as the state’s Clemency Board, also posthumously granted pardons to four Lake County men, known as the Groveland Four, who were wrongly accused of raping a white woman in the 1940’s.
He called on the Legislature to rewrite the state’s medical marijuana laws to remove the ban on the smoking of marijuana by patients.
He also suspended three local officials. One of them was Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel for mishandling the Parkland school shooting last February. On Friday he suspended Palm Beach County Elections chief Susan Bucher for her conduct during the November election. Bucher’s removal by the governor was a move that produced a more typical response from Florida Democrats.
“This is a direct power grab and politically motivated move by Governor Ron DeSantis that undermines our democratic process and sets a dangerous precedent,” South Florida Congresswoman Lois Frankel fired back on Saturday.
More of the usual partisan bickering will likely come into play as the weeks pass and we draw closer to the start of the legislative session in March.
“In touring the state, Governor DeSantis has met many Floridians and understands their needs and concern,” DeSantis’ Press Office said. “He has pledged to be a governor for all, and to work in a bipartisan manner. Issues such as the environment and infrastructure shouldn’t be partisan, they concern everyone. Governor DeSantis’ effective leadership and resolve to quickly solve problems will in itself help unify the state. “