Democrat Strategist Admits to Hopes that Hurricane Ian Would Shift Dynamics of Florida’s Gubernatorial Race

President Joe Biden listens as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks after they toured an area
AP Photo/Evan Vucci

A Democrat strategist admitted that his party hoped Hurricane Ian would shift the dynamics of Florida’s gubernatorial race between Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) and Rep. Charlie Crist (D-FL), as the governor continues to lead the Democrat.

A Saturday article from CNN’s 

“The hurricane is on track to make landfall in the state just six weeks ahead of the November elections and, depending on how well the governor responds to the potentially catastrophic storm, DeSantis may emerge more popular or open himself up to criticism,” Politico’s Matt Dixon wrote at the time.

To the establishment media’s dismay, that has been anything but the case. Millions of Floridians quickly saw power restored, and last Thursday, DeSantis announced that “all but 1.86 percent of the state of Florida” had power. Further, the state has seen mass success in reconnecting islands to the mainlands after the storm destroyed bridges and roadways. The first project that came to completion, in mere days, was a temporary road over Matlacha Pass, allowing people to finally access Pine Island.

But Democrats were dismayed, particularly, after Biden failed to go after DeSantis in the aftermath of the storm:

At the time of Biden’s remarks, Crist, the Democratic nominee for governor, and his allies were ramping up criticism of DeSantis tied to the hurricane – highlighting the former GOP congressman’s past votes against storm aid and climate change legislation and raising questions about the timing of evacuations in Lee County and the lack of urgency to address a crumbling property insurance market. Earlier in the week, Crist and the state Democratic Party promoted a story from a local television station featuring Floridians who said they were blocked from delivering storm supplies so DeSantis could survey the damage.

DeSantis, notably, dismissed those criticisms and purposely did not visit certain areas until later in the week so as not to interrupt the recovery process. However, Democrats are seemingly upset that Biden did not continue the narrative:

Biden “closed the door to that,” one veteran Democratic strategist told CNN, asking not to be named to speak openly about the race.

“The dynamics of the race needed to shift, and this was an opportunity for it to shift,” the strategist said. “The President complimenting the governor takes that whole issue off the table.”

Recent polls spell trouble for Democrats, as Hurricane Ian has not negatively affected DeSantis in the polls. Monday’s RealClearPolitics average shows DeSantis leading Crist by seven percentage points.


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