My fellow Republicans…
Yes, I can still say that. Unlike my previous Democratic-to-Republican switches to vote in a closed primary, this year I kept the GOP and will be voting in a general election wearing the red team's jersey for the first time.
Citrus County voters have no real contested partisan races. All candidates with an R next to their names should do just fine here.
Chief among them: Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is in lock with Citrus County Republicans as they are with him. Or so I’m told.
I do hear plenty about the governor, such as:
— If nothing else, he is brilliant at marketing. “Free State” of Florida. I mean…who can top that?
Rep. Blaise Ingoglia, soon to be our state senator, told a Citrus County Chamber of Commerce lunch on Friday that people are moving to Florida because they love the governor and his policies. It’s that “free state” thing.
It’s true. I’ve run into folks who tell me they’ve moved here from other states because Florida is free. When I tell them Florida is no freer than Ohio or Idaho, they look at me like I have four liberal heads.
— The Casey DeSantis ad is, frankly, the best political spot I’ve ever seen. Casey speaks of her husband’s strength for her family as she battled breast cancer, and the photos of the governor with his children are priceless. You’re cold as ice if that ad doesn’t choke you up some.
And it’s a punch in the gut to Charlie Crist, whose entire campaign focuses on he's not that mean-spirited guy who now occupies the Governor’s Mansion. If the governor is a loving family man who’s just doing his job, then we’re only debating normal Democrat-Republican things and DeSantis wins easily.
— But it’s not Dad of the Year DeSantis that people flock to. It’s that edgy governor, the pushy one, the man who gets exactly what he wants politically in a pattern that seems to be the rage of the Republican Party these days. Decades ago it was the Democrats who were led by heavy-handed bosses; today, it’s Republicans.
That brings a multitude of issues I’m not going to get into here, but I’ll raise one: The party is attracting all sorts of characters who claim to be “Republican” but are really just latching onto relevance to further their own narrow agendas.
Case in point is today’s side-by-side photos of DeSantis and Library Guy, who I call Labriola Guy when referring to his campaign for the Inverness City Council election.
Labriola Guy, who has made up one lie after another in an attempt to manipulate people into thinking danger lurks in our libraries, is now trying to be an actual candidate and talk about, you know, issues and stuff.
Several people over the weekend provided me a transcript of a recorded call Labriola Guy’s campaign sent to Inverness voters. It said, in part:
“John is a pro-life conservative who will work to keep taxes low, stop over development and keep abortion clinics out of Inverness. So this November the eighth, please vote for John Labriola, Ron DeSantis and Marco Rubio.”
(First off, thank goodness Labriola Guy is keeping “abortion clinics” out of Inverness. That’s always been a problem.)
But you see the dilemma? DeSantis creates this persona of an in-your-face governor and wackadoodles like Labriola Guy think that’s the way to lead. So much that they include the popular governor and senator in their ad, as if telling voters they’re all buddies.
This view comes to me from dozens of Citrus County Republicans who wonder what happened to their party but can’t say anything because of fierce reprisals. That’s our reality, Republicans.
—I realize writing about DeSantis opens us up to pro- and anti-governor comments, and the same for Crist. Remember the Just Wright Citrus code of conduct for participation: Spirited and polite.
Have a great Monday, Citrus County.
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Mike Wright has written about Citrus County government and politics for 36 years.