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Distance from partisan goals had DeSantis riding high in 2019, experts say

'I think he has surprised many Democrats'
Posted at 5:41 PM, Jan 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-08 18:03:41-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — With one year down, Governor Ron DeSantis’ approval rating is among the highest for current US governors.

The Republican took the state's top spot on January 8, 2019, after an extremely narrow victory over Democratic rival Andrew Gillum. During his inauguration speech, he pledged the office would have his full attention.

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“All I can promise is the sweat off my brow, a full heart, my best judgment and the courage of my convictions,” DeSantis said.

The governor has since turned his small victory margin into a larger one. From April to December, he maintained more than 60% approval among Floridians, according to Mason-Dixon polling.

“Even 40% of the Democrats approve of his governorship,” Florida State Political Science Professor Carol Weissert said. “That’s amazing, particularly this day and age with so much partisanship.”

Prof. Weissert believes DeSantis owes the positive numbers in large to taking on goals most GOP governors wouldn’t. Things like fighting environmental concerns, embracing medical marijuana and working to increase teacher pay. That's despite also supporting more partisan measures, such as a ban on sanctuary cities.

“I don’t want to say he’s not partisan. Clearly, he is,” she said. “But, I think he has surprised many Democrats and surprised many people.”

Weissert expects President Trump will lean on DeSantis to win the state in the upcoming election. A connection that could hurt the governor who is— at the moment— more popular according to polling.

DeSantis has already outlined some big goals ahead of the 2020 session, starting next week. They include allowing college athletes payment for use of their likeness, requiring E-Verify for employment and more money for Florida Forever.

Calls to DeSantis’ office for comment on this piece weren’t returned.