‘Freedom is here to stay’: Gov. Ron DeSantis claims victory for second term

Rpn DeSantis addresses his supporters in Tampa while Charlie Crist concedes defeat in St. Petersburg.

Polls leading up to the midterm elections showed incumbent Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis ahead of Democratic candidate Charlie Crist statewide by double digits and they were right.

DeSantis was the clear winner in the race for Florida governor and he will lead the Sunshine State for a second term, 60 percent to Crist’s 40 percent.

Looming over his victory is his possible bid for the White House, but during campaigning, DeSantis avoided questions from his opponent about his presidential plans.

DeSantis’s win means that he is the first Republican governor to take Miami-Dade since Jeb Bush in 2002. Only Broward County has more registered Democrats in Florida.

(Watch Governor’s victory speech)

DeSantis in Tampa delivered a fiery, almost defiant, speech staying well within the character he has built for his supporters as a freedom fighter. His speech covered all of the themes that were a large part of his campaign.

“We made promises to the people of Florida and we have delivered on those promises,” he said to a jubilant crowd. “And so today after four years the people have delivered their verdict. Freedom is here to stay,” DeSantis said.

In St. Petersburg, Crist made a very quick concession speech. He thanked his supporters and also congratulated his opponent.

“Florida has been great to me my entire life and I can’t thank all of my fellow Floridians for so much for so long. . . it has been an absolute blessing to serve as your governor before, to serve as the congressman from my hometown. I feel like the most blessed man ever and to Gov. DeSantis to you and your family, I wish you the best.”

Crist, who served as the 44th governor of Florida from 2007 to 2011, became an independent in 2010 and a Democrat in 2012.

While Crist did not make many comments during his short appearance, he later sent out a statement, which read in part:

“Unfortunately, tonight did not turn out the way we hoped. We were the underdog from the minute I entered this race 18 months ago. I knew we would be outspent. I knew we would not have as many television ads. But you know me. I am an optimist. I love Florida. Together, we stood up for our democracy and our freedoms, and we treated everyone with dignity and respect. I am very proud of that – and you should be, too . . . I talked with women, who want to make their own decisions about their bodies. Black and Hispanic Floridians, who want the same opportunities as everyone else. Members of the LGBTQ community, who want to be treated with the same respect as everyone else. Jewish leaders concerned with rising anti-Semitism. Teachers who deserve our praise. Small business owners who just want a fair shot to be successful. Families who want to live in safe communities, send their kids to good schools and live productive lives. Florida is a melting pot, and I believe in all my heart that our diversity is our greatest strength. I encourage everyone to embrace our diversity, to focus on meeting our common challenges, on creating a Florida where everyone can be successful regardless of race, gender, ethnicity or sexual orientation. I know we all want what’s best for the state we all love. . . "

Candidate

Votes

%

Ron DeSantis*(R)
4,614,21059%
Charlie Crist(D)
3,106,31340%
*Incumbent
98.3% of Precincts Reporting

(5,610 / 5,707)


About the Authors:

Glenna Milberg joined Local 10 News in September 1999 to report on South Florida's top stories and community issues. She also serves as co-host on Local 10's public affairs broadcast, "This Week in South Florida."

Michelle F. Solomon is the podcast producer/reporter/host of Local 10's original, true-crime podcast The Florida Files and a digital journalist for Local 10.com.