Dems face new obstacles in bid to oust DeSantis in 2022

Democrats hoping to defeat Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida during next year’s election are facing a new set of hurdles that could derail the effort.

The Hill reported Monday that at long last, Democratic state Sen. Annette Taddeo is expected to join the Democratic primary field this week, making it more likely that the party will experience a highly contentious and contested nomination process “that could hobble its ability to coalesce around a single candidate” to challenge DeSantis, “a rising Republican star and one of the left’s most-detested boogeymen.”

Meanwhile, the party is dealing with a steep fiscal disadvantage against the incumbent Republican that is likely to make it even harder to dislodge him next year, especially if no Democratic contender is able to distinguish themselves before the primaries next year.

Currently, DeSantis’ campaign has banked around $58 million, or about 20 times more than his closest Democratic opponents, The Hill added.

“Really, Republicans have this consolidated funding and support behind DeSantis, which just isn’t something we have right now,” one Florida Democratic Party operative told the outlet. “He will be very difficult to beat. This is going to be a titanic task, but failure is not an option.”

When Taddeo jumps into the race, she will be competing against a pair of other leading Florida Dems including Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried and Rep. Charlie Crist, a Republican-turned-Democrat and former Florida governor himself. Both Fried and Crist have won statewide races before and have been declared gubernatorial candidates for months now.

But some analysts say that Taddeo entering the race lays bare a reality that neither of the other two Democrats has really managed to gain an advantage in traction over the other in order to ultimately secure their party’s nomination.

“I think things have felt kind of stagnant for a while with Fried and Crist, and I think that’s where Annette Taddeo comes in,” a Democratic consultant told The Hill. “It’s the idea that there’s still plenty of room, even if she’s getting in a little later.”

She will still face a stiff challenge to distinguish herself, however, because not only is she jumping into the race later than her challengers, she won’t be able to raise money for her campaign after the two-month state legislative session begins on Jan. 11 per Florida law. That will make things tougher because at present she has less than $250,000 in her campaign account, state records show.

That said, her surrogates claim that because she is a Latina from Miami-Dade County, she can more easily capture that demographic, especially in South Florida after GOP gains there last November helped propel then-President Donald Trump’s victory in Florida while ousting a pair of Democratic members of the House.

“From my vantage point in South Florida, a lot of the grassroots activists, the party officers, and the base are landing with Annette,” Thomas Kennedy, a Democratic National Committee member from Florida supporting Taddeo, told The Hill.

“She just has to go in and do the nitty-gritty organizing work and also make the argument that she’s the best to complement the overall ticket,” he noted further. “But I think she’s going to do it. I’ve seen her do it in the past.”

Nevertheless, Democrats still have an uphill battle. There hasn’t been a Democrat in the governor’s mansion in 20 years, and Fried is the only Democrat currently elected to statewide office. Also, Republicans control both of the state’s U.S. Senate seats.

The Hill went on to note that recent surveys show DeSantis leading both Crist and Fried by 8 points and 12 points, respectively.

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Jon Dougherty

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