OUR POSITION: The race to determine Florida’s governor in November is heating up, but we’re waiting patiently to see candidates address the people directly and the issues that are so important.
It’s still early perhaps. But this November’s election for governor in Florida has ramifications beyond our borders. And that makes it imperative voters get to know the candidates and get to ask their sitting governor some tough questions.
So far, we’ve seen little movement on the part of any candidate to connect with the public.
Gov. Ron DeSantis, of course, is a huge favorite for reelection. His nearly four years in office have seen him battle a pandemic that no one saw coming and one that has been a drag on his leadership. The COVID has distracted from many of the good things the governor has done for education in the state, for the environment and for Florida businesses.
We have no doubt when the rubber hits the road, DeSantis will remind us about those successes.
For the past few months, and right now, the governor is taking advantage of the state plane to fly to cities all across Florida to make announcements about policies and to play down the pandemic and need for vaccinations. He has a pulpit that his Democrat challengers lack.
But we’d like to see the governor — and his opponents — making campaign stops and speaking to the public — not just supporters. His love for peaceful news conferences with no one questioning his decisions was made obvious this past week when a Jacksonville man was handcuffed and taken away for wanting to show up and question the governor’s decision-making on COVID.
One Democrat candidate is planning to give the public every opportunity to ask questions of her.
Florida state Sen. Annette Taddeo wants to jump in her RV and visit every Florida county in the next few months — presumably after the legislative session in Tallahassee. She is using the RV as a prop to tell people how she lived in one after Hurricane Andrew in 1992.
She also referenced former Florida Gov. and U.S. Sen. Lawton Chiles who, in 1970 when running for the U.S. Senate, took a 1,000-mile, 91-day walking tour of Florida so voters could meet him.
That is great. But she has a lot of work to do to escape the shadow of former governor and Congressman Charlie Crist and current Florida Department of Agriculture Secretary Nikki Fried.
Until last week, Crist was content to stay at his home base in St. Petersburg and issue press releases. He has made some interesting policy suggestions from his office. His most recent was a six-point plan for action that included: Medicaid expansion; lowering prescription drug costs; supporting seniors with disabilities; building age-friendly communities; support for care workers and protecting state employee retirees.
Fried has the responsibilities of her job that tie her down so it may be unfair to criticize her for not getting out to speak with the public more often. She, like Crist, has been vocal with her criticism of DeSantis, especially on how the governor is handling the COVID pandemic.
A week ago she questioned why DeSantis is storing thousands of COVID tests when the public is lining up for hours to be tested. The governor has pretty much ignored her but admitted about 1 million tests in storage were now outdated. Meanwhile, he has made it clear he thinks testing is overrated.
It will be an interesting summer.