What Lies Ahead for Florida and DeSantis During the Biden Administration?
In a few weeks, the presidential political ground will shift significantly for Florida. Instead of a friendly partisan relationship between Tallahassee and the White House, Gov. Ron DeSantis and President-elect Joe Biden will be on separate sides of the political divide.
Joe Biden has promised to be a "president to all Americans" — including Florida, which swung solidly behind President Donald Trump in the Nov. 3 election.
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DeSantis frequently touted his close relationship with President Donald Trump. Having an ally in the White House made it easier to secure hurricane relief assistance and supplies to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
The pandemic, health care, and the environment are just a few of the issues in Florida that may be shaped by the connections between the governor’s mansion and the Oval Office. On the Florida Roundup, hosts Tom Hudson and Melissa Ross spoke with Miami Herald reporter Ana Ceballos and Florida Politics reporter A.G. Gancarski.
Here’s an excerpt.
MELISSA ROSS: Gov. Ron DeSantis was banking on President Trump winning another four years. That didn't happen. So how will this administration pivot to dealing with a Biden administration and what does that portend for the state of Florida?
A.G. GANCARSKI: It's going to be a very adversarial relationship, in large part on purpose, and there's precedent for it. When Rick Scott was governor, Barack Obama was president. Rick Scott would often grouse when things weren't going his way, "I need a partner in the White House." Rick Scott got that partner. But not everything turned around.
With DeSantis, he's had a kind of a charmed life in the Trump era. But with Biden, you can expect a lot more legal challenges for executive orders and things like that. Expect Attorney General Ashley Moody to be more active in terms of challenging things that may come from Washington, especially in the early days of the Bush administration.
I'm expecting President-elect Biden to showcase Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried. Fried's been on the outs with DeSantis for the last year or so. The leading Democrat in the state, early Biden supporter. So you're going to see that kind of showcase, the kind of setup for 2022.
TOM HUDSON: I'm wondering, particularly when it comes to the environment, that was an issue where Gov. DeSantis, early in his gubernatorial term, surprised a lot of people, particularly compared to how Gov. Rick Scott dealt with the environment. And DeSantis really leveraged that close relationship that he had with President Trump to loosen up the federal purse strings when it comes to Everglades restoration, and other big environmental projects that really rest on the tens of billions of dollars that need to flow from the federal government and did flow for the first time in many, many years. So how does that particular issue then get shaped by the different kind of relationship between Gov. DeSantis and President-elect Biden?
ANA CEBALLOS: That's a really good point, and I think there has even been a public joke that Trump would say at his campaign rallies here that the governor only called in to ask for money, and that he'd always say yes. And so it will be really interesting to see the same dynamic between DeSantis, an ambitious Republican governor who is potentially eyeing a run for the White House with a Democratic president who it will be likely on purpose to be combative at times, to just draw the line of what his agenda is. And it will be interesting to see how he navigates that relationship with President Biden in terms of funding for key environmental projects.
We saw when he first came into office in January 2019, how he did lay out a pretty grand environmental package that included new positions in his administration to look at climate change, and more funding for water resources and cleaning up the springs and environmental proposals that would be appealing to Democrats, Republicans, moderates. And it was interesting to see that slowly kind of go away.