Governor Ron DeSantis has a growing store of admirers. This includes many who have watched the cantankerous Floridian only from afar. They have heard glowing things. He was the biggest winner of an otherwise dark election cycle for Republicans. He has impeccable bona fides as a Donald Trump disciple—without being Trump himself, whom many see as the biggest loser of said dark election cycle.
This has made DeSantis the GOP’s hottest molecule. He is full MAGA without the high drama. He is terrorizing all the right targets while Trump keeps blowing himself up in new and creative ways. “He is Trump with a brain,” goes the whispered refrain among DeSantis aides (this clearly drives Trump nuts—always a noble goal).
While essentially working from home, DeSantis has managed to build an impressive cachet as a favored Fox News funambulist, a flypaper for big donors, and an owner of libs. He has fashioned a kind of GOP utopia in the Sunshine State—where the boss himself chooses to reside, but is safely cordoned off in Palm Beach. DeSantis, meanwhile, clearly runs the empire. “Florida is where woke goes to die,” he said in his chest-thumping victory speech on Election Night.
The question is whether DeSantis’s presidential hopes will perish as he starts getting out more on the Iowa–New Hampshire dating apps. People who know him better and have watched him longer are skeptical of his ability to take on the former president. DeSantis, they say, is no thoroughbred political athlete. He can be awkward and plodding. And Trump tends to eviscerate guys like that. [Continue reading…]