Divisions surface after Republican wipeout in Florida

FILE - President Donald Trump talks to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, left, during a visit to Lake Okeechobee and Herbert Hoover Dike at Canal Point, Fla., March 29, 2019. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File) (Manuel Balce Ceneta, Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

MIAMI – The ripple effects of the Republican wipeout in Florida reveal divisions in both parties.

Earlier this week, Manny Diaz, the chairman of the Florida Democratic Party, blamed the midterm losses on a lack of support from Democrats nationwide.

Florida Rep. Fentrice Driskell, the Democrats’ Florida House leader, agreed with Diaz, who faced calls for his resignation. She is gearing up to oppose a reduction to the 15-weeks abortion ban.

“I do expect it to happen whether it’s six weeks or twelve weeks,” Driskell said during This Week In South Florida with Senior Political Reporter Michael Putney and Reporter Glenna Milberg.

Meanwhile, Republicans were dealing with former President Donald Trump’s criticism of Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has focused on dealing with the aftermath of hurricanes Nicole and Ian. Trump was still dealing with the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection and facing criticism from Rupert Murdoch’s media empire.

As Trump prepared to announce his plans to run for the presidency for the third time in 2024, John Thomas, a Republican strategist, announced the start of the Ron to the Rescue political action committee, the Tampa Bay Times/Miami Herald Tallahassee Bureau reported.

“Did a great job (I wasn’t the one running!), and am very busy looking into the future. Remember, I am a Stable Genius,” Trump said in a statement on his Truth Social platform adding that “DeSanctimonious” was an “average REPUBLICAN governor with great Public Relations.”

While Trump’s candidates lost races, DeSantis was reelected with a nearly 20-point margin. Political strategists Giancarlo Sopo and Fernand Amandi agreed that Republican voters in Florida were “outliers” during the midterms.

Sopo attributed this to the “kind of leadership” that DeSantis and Sen. Marco Rubio have displayed and the likable demeanor of Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar.

“People gravitate toward her, want to take selfies with her,” Sopo said during TWISF about Salazar, a retired Spanish-speaking television journalist.

Amandi said during TWISF that he thinks DeSantis won’t be running against Trump because the former president will turn him into a “low-energy little governor DeSanctimonious” and the MAGA “wing of the Republican party” can only have one leader at a time.

“DeSantis would not dare take him on because he will get crushed,” Amandi said.

Watch This Week In South Florida’s episode

Watch the segment with Driskell

Watch the segment with Sopo and Amandi

Watch the segment with Miami Beach Commissioner Kristen Rosen Gonzalez

Watch the segment with Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava

About the Author:

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.