Politics Pressure mounts for DeSantis in Florida

13:46  22 july  2021
13:46  22 july  2021 Source:   thehill.com

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With coronavirus cases climbing in Florida , Gov. Ron DeSantis has dodged mounting pressure to pause the state's reopening, a position that reflects both the Republican leader's past defiance in the face of the pandemic and his political positioning.

Facing increasing pressure to implement measures to mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced a statewide, 30-day “stay-at-home” order on Wednesday. DeSantis , a staunch Trump ally, had been heavily criticized for his loose restrictions on social distancing guidelines in Florida , which had almost 7,000 cases of the coronavirus as of Wednesday, as well as 80 deaths. Spring breakers and beach-goers have flocked to beaches in Florida in recent weeks due to lax restrictions.

ORLANDO, Fla. - Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is facing mounting pressure on the homefront as he looks to cement his superstar status among Republicans nationally.

Ron DeSantis wearing a suit and tie: Pressure mounts for DeSantis in Florida © The Hill Pressure mounts for DeSantis in Florida

Over the past week, COVID-19 infections have surged in Florida to the point that the state now accounts for about one in five new cases. The vaccination rate, meanwhile, has begun to level off. At the same time, Florida's Gulf Coast is suffering from a particularly harsh bout of red tide, prompting local officials to call on the governor to declare a state of emergency.

The troubles in Florida are putting pressure on DeSantis as he seeks to carve out a more robust national profile for himself in anticipation of what his supporters and critics alike see as a potential 2024 presidential run.

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(Reuters) - U.S. investigators face mounting pressure on Monday to deliver answers on the motive that led a Saudi Air Force lieutenant to shoot and kill three people and wounded eight others at a U.S. Navy base in Pensacola, Florida . Florida Governor Ron DeSantis , speaking at a Sunday evening The FBI confirmed on Sunday that Alshamrani had legally purchased somewhere in Florida the Glock 9mm pistol he used in the shooting. DeSantis said he was able to buy the firearm because of a "federal loophole" in gun laws that allow nonimmigrant foreign nationals to purchase weapons for an array of

Florida is getting a statewide stay-at-home order after its governor previously held off on taking the step.Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) announced Wednesday he's issuing a stay-at-home order for all of Florida that will go into effect at midnight on Thursday and last for at least 30 days amid the COVID-19 coronavirus It "makes sense to make this move now," he added. Florida had previously been among the last large U.S. states without a statewide stay-at-home order, and DeSantis was under mounting pressure to issue one; he previously ordered residents of Broward, Miami-Dade, Palm Beach and

He took a fundraising trip to California last month as he builds up his campaign war chest ahead of his 2022 reelection bid. Over the weekend, he traveled to Texas to visit the U.S. southern border, where Florida law enforcement is deployed. And he was in Aspen, Colo., earlier this week for a meeting of the Republican Governors Association.

"He's running for president, not for governor. He's much more interested in fundraising and shallow and destructive appeals to the MAGA base," Thomas Kennedy, a Democratic National Committee member from Florida, said, using the acronym for "make America great again," former President Donald Trump's campaign slogan.

"The guy has a big responsibility, and he's abdicating it because of his own political aspirations," Kennedy added.

Florida COVID-19 hospitalizations jump significantly again

  Florida COVID-19 hospitalizations jump significantly again FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — Florida's COVID-19 hospitalizations and cases again jumped significantly this week as the vaccination rate in rural counties where some of the worst outbreaks are occurring remains well below the state and national averages. About 5,300 Floridians are now hospitalized with COVID, a 65% jump since last week and nearly a tripling since June 14 when 1,845 were hospitalized, the Florida Hospital Association said. Officials have said more than 95% of those hospitalized were not vaccinated. About 60% of residents 12 and older are vaccinated, according to the state, equal to the national rate.

Florida 's Ron DeSantis can boast being one of the most pro-freedom US governors in terms of Covid-19 rules, but he now regrets even going as far as ordering a 30-day lockdown last year, calling it a “huge mistake.” While the Florida lockdown, which was imposed in April 2020, was less restrictive than those in many states, DeSantis regrets issuing the order. Lockdowns across the US have destroyed lives and devastated economies, and DeSantis and other Republican governors have argued that states that continue to impose such orders are harming their residents without curtailing the

TALLAHASSEE – Gov. Ron DeSantis drew heightened pressure Monday to improve the state’s unemployment compensation system, whose already challenging online application process has been overwhelmed by thousands of suddenly jobless Floridians. DeSantis appears to have made fixing the benefits system a low priority in the state’s fight against coronavirus. He downplayed Florida ’s problems as part of a nationwide “shock to the system,” saying many states are dealing with a massive upsurge in people seeking unemployment compensation.

The rise in COVID-19 cases in the state, combined with DeSantis's recent trip to the southern border, prompted a scathing editorial from the Orlando Sentinel's editorial board on Tuesday that suggested that the governor was more interested in "burnishing his 2024 presidential ambitions" than addressing Florida's public health challenges.

"To save lives, he must start acting like Florida's governor and less like he's auditioning for Turning Point USA or Texas Gov. Greg Abbott or whatever Fox News host comes calling," the editorial reads, referring to the conservative nonprofit of the same name.

Christina Punshaw, a spokesperson for DeSantis, dismissed the notion that the governor has prioritized his national political presence over his responsibilities at home, accusing his critics of pushing a false narrative.

"Whenever Democrats and their media allies, like the Orlando Sentinel, cannot find anything legitimate to criticize Governor DeSantis about, they simply make things up," Punshaw said in an email. "This is yet another example. To say the Governor is more focused on national politics than Florida politics is patently absurd and flies in the face of empirical evidence."

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Pressure continues to mount for DeSantis . But what is Sen. Rick Scott doing in the new coronavirus normal? Ron DeSantis on Tuesday further restricted gatherings in the state even as he criticized New York and California for imposing sweeping lockdowns that he said were being widely ignored. DeSantis , in a livestreamed briefing, said the National Guard will screen airport passengers arriving from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut who are under orders to self-quarantine for 14 days after arriving in Florida .

The jockeying as DeSantis ’ star rises suggests that Fried, Florida ’s only statewide elected Democrat, is trying to solidify herself as her party’s best shot at knocking off DeSantis in 2022, an election cycle that is expected to feature a crowded Democratic primary field. Their latest line of attack is centered on Fried kept up the pressure on Tuesday, going on CNN to blast DeSantis for using the American flag “as a political prop.” “What he’s doing is bending over backwards to honor a radio host who spent his entire career talking hate speech and talking bigotry and division and conspiracy theories,” Fried said.

Still, the list of challenges in Florida come at a critical juncture in DeSantis's political career.

He's up for reelection next year and is already facing opposition from two prominent Democrats, state Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried and Rep. Charlie Crist (D-Fla.), who have hit DeSantis over everything from the recent red tide outbreak to his decision to deploy state law enforcement to the southern border.

At the same time, DeSantis has emerged as a rising star within the GOP, stirring speculation of a potential presidential run.

Former President Donald Trump is still floating the possibility of a comeback campaign in 2024. But without him on the ticket, DeSantis is seen as a top contender. A survey from Republican pollster Tony Fabrizio shared with Politico earlier this month found the Florida governor with a nearly 30-point lead in a Republican primary without Trump.

"DeSantis - really besides Donald Trump - is kind of on top of the world with Republicans right now," one Republican consultant said. "And really, considering that he's still in office, he's going to take a lot of the criticism that Democrats used to direct into President Trump."

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DeSantis, who has maintained that he is focused on getting reelected next year, has been quick to push back against his critics who have accused him of burnishing his national political profile.

Speaking to reporters in Texas over the weekend, he made the case that the surge in unauthorized border crossings posed a significant threat to his state, saying that 70 percent of those apprehended by law enforcement ultimately intended to make their way to Florida.

DeSantis also paid a visit to St. Petersburg on Wednesday, where he insisted that his administration had responded appropriately to the red tide that has ravaged Florida's Gulf Coast over the past week and killed more than 600 tons of marine life.

He said that before he took office in 2019, the state lacked dedicated funding to respond to red tide, but that his administration had "developed a dedicated funding source in the annual budget."

"We've planned for mitigation efforts, we've appropriated the money for mitigation efforts and we're using the funds just as they were intended to be used, and we're proud that we thought ahead and had the money ready to go," he said.

The coronavirus pandemic is the issue drawing perhaps the most attention in Florida. The state has experienced a sharp increase in new COVID-19 infections in recent weeks as the vaccination rate has stagnated and the more contagious Delta variant works its way through the country. In a particularly alarming statistic, the White House said last week that new infections in Florida accounted for about 20 percent of cases nationally.

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DeSantis brushed aside concerns about the recent surge in new infections on Monday, telling reporters that it was a "seasonal" occurrence and predicted that cases would start declining in August.

"I told people months ago, we would see higher prevalence because it's a seasonal virus and this is the seasonal pattern that it follows in the Sunbelt states, particularly in Florida," he said.

That response echoed his approach to the coronavirus pandemic over much of the past year, when he defied calls from public health experts for more restrictive lockdowns, often to the cheers of conservatives. His reelection campaign recently began selling merchandise taking aim at Anthony Fauci, the federal government's top infectious disease expert who has become the face of the national response to the pandemic.

DeSantis's laissez faire approach to the pandemic has, in many ways, fared better than many predicted it would. And the governor's office noted that the vast majority of coronavirus-related hospitalizations are among unvaccinated patients. DeSantis has repeatedly urged Floridians to get vaccinated, saying on Wednesday that the shots "are saving lives."

DeSantis remains a beloved figure for many Republicans, who see the governor as a possible successor to Trump and his brand of indignant conservative populism. And while there's a dearth of recent public polling in Florida, a series of surveys in May showed DeSantis's approval above water.

"DeSantis's approval ratings remain above 50 percent," Dan Eberhart, a GOP donor, said. "It's going to take more than the Delta variant and a few dead fish on the beach to knock DeSantis out of the top spot with Republicans."

"These are short-term jabs meant to bruise a political opponent," he added. "There's no knockout punch here that is capable of taking Gov. DeSantis down."

Cruise line sues Florida over COVID-19 vaccine passport ban .
Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings on Tuesday filed a lawsuit against Florida's surgeon general in an effort to prevent the state from carrying out its so-called "vaccine passport" ban barring businesses from requiring customers to provide proof of vaccination. Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings on Tuesday filed a lawsuit against Florida's surgeon general in an effort to prevent the state from carrying out its so-called "vaccine passport" ban barring businesses from requiring customers to provide proof of vaccination.

usr: 2
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