ORLANDO, Fla. – Florida’s governor is returning to the governor’s mansion after winning reelection against challenger Charlie Crist.
“This was the best-run campaign in the history of Florida politics,” DeSantis said as he spoke Tuesday night to a huge crowd in Tampa.
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“Thank you to Miami-Dade County. Thank you to Palm Beach County,” DeSantis said, ticking off major Democratic strongholds that voted in large numbers for the governor. DeSantis thanked voters who did not vote for him four years ago for the landslide victory.
DeSantis said his team has accomplished much in the last four years and there was more to do. “I have only begun to fight,” he said.
Crist conceded to DeSantis during an election watch party in St. Pete Tuesday night.
In a statement, Crist urged Floridians to recognize that the state is a melting pot.
“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,” Crist said.
The race also had a Libertarian candidate, and a no-party-affiliate candidate.
Polls showed the race was DeSantis’ to lose, with Crist trailing by 4 to 10 points, depending on the poll. DeSantis also had the bigger war chest and his political action committee continued to pull in big donations from groups and individuals both in and outside the state.
(5,610 / 5,667)
DeSantis was born in Jacksonville and grew up in Dunedin. He went to Yale University and Harvard Law School and served in the U.S. Navy as a JAG officer.
DeSantis was elected to Congress in 2012 where he championed traditional conservative causes and supported reforms at the Department of Veterans Affairs.
He won the Republican nomination for Florida governor in 2018 after an endorsement by former President Donald Trump and won the election by a slim margin.
Since then, he has cultivated a populist conservative image that has made him a hero of right-of-center voters. His bucking of COVID-19 protocols, including keeping businesses open and opening schools earlier, as well as fighting mask guidelines and even vaccine guidelines, earned him a national following. He is frequently discussed as a potential frontrunner for the 2024 Republican nomination for president, in the same breath as Trump.
DeSantis has been buoyed by a compliant legislature that has helped him push through a number of massive reforms and made him a culture war hero. His Stop WOKE Law banned ethnic education and workplace trainings that caused white people to feel persecuted. His “parental rights in education” law banned sexual identity discussions or instruction in the lower grades or in other areas as considered appropriate. He has also expanded parental ability to critique public education in other areas.
DeSantis can be a divisive figure in Florida government. While many champion his policies, others see them as dangerous for minorities and marginalized groups.
While DeSantis has taken million in donations from corporations, he has shown that he is willing to stand up to those donors if they criticize his policies. After Disney World criticized the “parental rights in education” law, he convened a special legislative session to strip the Walt Disney Company of its special district status -- a move that has not been fully resolved yet.
Under DeSantis, Florida continued to thrive, with one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country and a budget surplus, though federal funds bolster the budget. And Florida continues to grow, with nearly 1,000 people moving to Florida per day.
He has raised starting teacher pay, increased pay and bonuses for law enforcement and cut corporate taxes. He’s also signed expansions into school vouchers and helped oversee the growth of charter schools.
Still, the state continues to deal with a massive teacher shortage, in part because of some of his more divisive policies.
Florida is also under affordable housing and property insurance crises. DeSantis called a special session for the latter, and whether the policies enacted will resolve the crisis remains to be seen. Critics accuse DeSantis of not doing enough to help with affordable housing.
As governor, DeSantis has also been able to expand his powers with the help of the legislature, and if re-elected to a second term is likely to continue to do that. It’s been implied that DeSantis will look at expanding the state’s abortion restrictions and bringing constitutional carry of firearms to the state.
A St. Petersburg native, Crist served in the Florida Legislature, as Florida education commissioner and as Florida governor from 2007 to 2010 when he ran for the U.S. Senate and lost. He then ran for governor in 2014 as a Democrat but lost to then-Gov. Rick Scott.
Crist for a long time described himself as a “Reagan Republican” — fiscally conservative, though socially more moderate than today’s conservative. He ran as a tough-on-crime candidate (in the Florida Legislature he acquired the name “Chain Gang Charlie” for his proposal to bring back chain gangs), and he appointed conservative judges when he was governor, but he was also known to buck the Republican-led Florida Legislature at times on issues like linking teacher pay to test scores (he vetoed that legislation).
He supported some restrictions on abortion, such as late-term abortion, but while in the governor’s office he vetoed a bill to require women to get an ultrasound before having an abortion. He described himself as “pro-choice, but not pro-abortion.”
Crist dealt with affordable housing and property insurance crises in his time as governor. He and the legislature made Florida’s homestead tax exemptions portable, which helped bring property taxes down. He also created a reinsurance fund to deal with the property insurance issue. While the affordable housing and insurance crises are different this time around, Crist says he has plans to deal with both issues.
Crist took flak from Republicans for standing with President Obama and even hugging him publicly during the Great Recession.
When Crist ran for U.S. Senate, the Florida Republican Party pulled back its support of Crist, who was overtaken in the polls by future Sen. Marco Rubio. Crist left the party and ran for Senate as an independent candidate but lost to Rubio in the general election.
In 2012, Crist joined the Democratic Party, saying he didn’t leave the Republican Party, the party left him.
He ran for governor against incumbent Rick Scott in 2014 but lost by a narrow margin.
Since then, Crist has represented the 13th U.S. House district in St. Petersburg as a Democrat. Since his switch to the Democratic Party, he has voted with Democrats the majority of the time.
Hector Roos is a Libertarian candidate and political consultant who worked in real estate and marketing.
Not much information is on Roos’ website, but he says he is against the state’s reliance on federal funds and following federal guidelines in return, which he calls bribery.
Roos wants a repeal of the state’s red flag law, which allows law enforcement to confiscate firearms if a person is believed to be likely to commit harm to themselves or others. He also wants to see constitutional carry of firearms become legal in the state.
Carmen Jackie Giménez
Carmen Giménez is a Venezuelan-American human rights activist who is running with no party affiliation.
According to her website, Giménez is running on a platform that calls for supporting human rights, restoring funding for pre-K education, eliminating gas taxes, delegating funds to religious institutions, and increasing support for environmental issues, among others.