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Race for Governor: How politics of COVID-19 may shape the showdown

Ron DeSantis
Posted at 8:39 AM, Oct 20, 2021

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — In a political era when perception is bigger than reality; the pandemic can be a double-edged sword for any candidate, including Governor DeSantis.

There are days when the pandemic feels like a never-ending storm. And there are days when you can see the light of hope. The tug of war between good news and bad news, and the lasting debate about how we manage COVID-19 and move forward is all one big prelude to the Governor’s Race in 2022, and Florida’s choice for who should lead the state and shape the future of its 21 million residents.

USF political science professor Edwin Benton said for DeSantis the pandemic is both a strength and a weakness.

“The longer the pandemic lasts, the more difficult it will be for him to shake it off,” says Benton.

“(Crist and Fried) believe DeSantis is betting that this is going to be short-lived and we’ll be back to some sense of normalcy… Charlie Crist and Nikki Fried are just sitting back like good fishermen, let that fish play and see how far he goes,” he said.

Fried Crist AP.png
(L) FILE- In this Nov. 2, 2019, Nikki Fried, Democratic candidate for Florida Commissioner of Agriculture, speaks during a campaign rally, in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky, File)

(R) FILE - In this May 4, 2021, file photo Rep. Charlie Crist, D-St. Petersburg, gestures during a campaign rally as he announces his run for Florida governor in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara, File)

Ryan Gorman, host of PM Tampa Bay on News Radio WFAL is a human barometer of what people are thinking, feeling, and talking about in Tampa Bay. Gorman’s call-in board lights up with listeners on all sides of all issues and Gorman takes on all subjects of the news cycle, offering a common-sense take that’s often missing in today’s highly charged, highly political environment.

“There’s a lot of excitement about these races in the midterms and especially Governor DeSantis. He’s raised his profile so much during the course of the pandemic," Gorman said. "You have Democrats who want to take him down and Republicans who want to build him up and keep him in place because he could be the next one from the Republican Party to lead the party moving forward."

Gorman also believes the pandemic is still the key issue and driver in the 2022 Governor’s Race.

“Such a huge impact because you have such a big disagreement…between the things the governor has done and the measures he’s taken…and it’s not just the public health crisis, part of it.. but also how is this going to affect the economy, are we going to see a major bounce back," Gorman opined. "We have seen a recovery but it’s been disrupted by the resurgence of the virus, people trying to change their jobs and work-life balance… so how is that going to shake out in 2022? That’s the big question.”

It’s also important to recognize it’s still very early.

“You know I think if there is one lesson we could have leaned back in 2015 and 16 is that anything can happen, it could all change on a dime,” says Gorman.