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In an inaugural ceremony where he emphasized faith, limited government, and his own humility, former Naval lawyer and Rep. Ron DeSantis was sworn into office as the 46th Governor of Florida at noon today.
“I take the helm of the ship of state as a Florida native, as a veteran of our nation’s military, conscious of my own deficiencies, mindful of the great trust that has been placed in me and thankful to so many of you who have prayed for me,” said DeSantis to a crowd that included former Florida governor and now U.S Senator Rick Scott, supporters, and elected officials during his inaugural address.
In his speech, DeSantis accentuated his wish to support Florida’s “favorable tax climate,” that he claims will continue to attract jobs and businesses in technology, manufacturing, and finance. The governor also reiterated his desire to protect Florida’s environment and natural resources, not only to keep the sunshine state a desirable tourist destination but to protect the local economies and Floridian’s way of life.
“We will never ever quit, we won’t be cowed, and we don’t let the foot-draggers stand in our way,” said DeSantis on his resolve on environmental issues such as red tide and Everglades restoration.
While DeSantis takes over for a fellow conservative, Floridians shouldn’t expect another 4 to 8 years of the same.
“DeSantis may differentiate himself from Governor Scott in several ways,” said Aubrey Jewett, a professor of political science at UCF. “DeSantis has gone out of his way to cultivate the Florida legislature and its leadership to try and establish a solid working relationship with them. Scott usually had a somewhat strained relationship with the legislature.”
Jewett also highlighted DeSantis’ willingness to work with Democrats – the minority party in the Florida state house and senate.
“DeSantis has mostly appointed knowledgeable and or competent people to leadership posts of various government entities, including at least two Democrats, to the Florida Division of Emergency Management and Florida Department of Revenue, showing a bipartisan streak that was not expected,” said Jewett.
Some Democrats in the house see an opportunity to work with the new governor, such as Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, the firebrand progressive who campaigned with Sen. Bernie Sanders in support for Gillum.
“There’s absolutely a path to bipartisanship if the governor wants it,” said Smith to the Voice. “We need to focus on solving the many crises in our state – healthcare, housing, gun violence, and opioids.”
The representative of Florida’s 49th district displayed reservations that the governor may fill the 3 vacancies on Florida’s supreme court with “right-wing judges” who will “empower the legislature to double-down on extreme policies that hurt everyday Floridians.”
Smith, the first openly gay Latino in the Florida legislature, mentioned that a show of goodwill across the aisle for the new governor would be to defend the Florida Civil Rights Act and protections for LGBTQ Floridians along with it.
In what may have very well been the most polarizing gubernatorial race in Florida’s history, DeSantis won a close race over Tallahassee mayor Andrew Gillum – a darling of the progressive left who publicly sparred with the newly elected governor on policies such as Medicaid expansion, $15 minimum wage, and expanded gun control measures – all of which DeSantis opposed.
There were also accusations of racism directed at DeSantis from the Gillum campaign, who cited the then-Representative’s warning to voters not to “monkey this up” and elect Gillum, a black man, and his decision to speak at conferences hosted by David Horowitz, an anti-muslim political activist. DeSantis has denied that his comment was in reference to Gillum’s race and asserted that he should not be held responsible for Horowitz’s comments.
DeSantis also ran on his unwavering support for President Donald Trump, even appearing in a commercial where he read his daughter Trump’s 1987 book The Art of the Deal and taught his infant son to”build the wall” with toy blocks. Trump appeared with DeSantis at rallies on the campaign trail.
DeSantis is Florida’s fourth straight Republican governor. A Democrat has not held the office in Florida since 1999.