The Not-So-Secret Plan Of Governor Ron DeSantis

In the worst kept secret in the political world, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is preparing a campaign to challenge former President Donald Trump for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.  


The Not-So-Secret Plan Of Governor Ron DeSantis


By Roger Stone


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In the worst kept secret in the political world, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is preparing a campaign to challenge former President Donald Trump for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination. With over $150 million in PAC funds leftover from his gubernatorial run and a deep bench of anti-Trump billionaire donors, the Governor is methodically preparing to challenge the man who is more responsible for putting DeSantis in the Governor mansion than any other Republican—including DeSantis himself.


I have written and spoken extensively about the fact that I would view a DeSantis campaign challenging Trump as a singular act of disloyalty that is downright treacherous. DeSantis was essentially an unknown back bench neocon Congressman who actually refused to endorse Donald Trump in 2016 after Trump had clinched the Republican nomination until Trump raised him from obscurity to the Governor’s mansion.


The Florida Republican establishment, including all 67 Republican county chairmen, every elected Republican in the State House and Senate, as well as every Republican member of the Florida congressional delegation except Congressman Matt Gaetz endorsed former Congressman and State Agricultural Commissioner Adam Putnam. DeSantis rose to Trump’s attention by rebranding himself as a strong critic of the Russian collusion investigation – taking to FOX television and conservative talk radio to offer a spirited defense of the 45th President.


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Polling in single digits and having fundraising problems, DeSantis prevailed only due to Congressman Matt Gaetz helping him persuade Trump to render his all important endorsement. Given Trump’s extraordinary popularity after his election with Florida Republicans, the tweeted endorsement of DeSantis took the Florida political world by storm and DeSantis skyrocketed to a solid victory in the Republican Primary. “It was like a nuclear explosion,” Agriculture Commissioner Putnam would later tell President Donald Trump.


Not well versed in state issues because DeSantis had been focused on running for the US Senate seat of Marco Rubio, who was planning his retirement but relented and ran again after the appeals of party leaders who felt Rubio was the strongest candidate to hold the seat. DeSantis refocused his efforts on the governorship after Rubio elected to run again.


Unfortunately, DeSantis’ relative unfamiliarity with state issues and his lack-luster performance would not render him the most effective candidate. Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, emerged from the Democrat gubernatorial primary by completely galvanizing and mobilizing the base of African-American voters in the primary while  grabbing a respectable swath of White liberal voters as well. Charismatic and well-versed on state issues from his time as Mayor, Gillum tried to move his campaign to the center after having to stake out progressive positions to galvanize his base and pick up non African-American liberal voters in the primary.


DeSantis essentially ran an attack campaign built largely on what were then allegations of corruption against Gillum. In fact, Federal corruption charges would later be filed against Gillum after the election and his political aspirations crashed and burned when he was mired in a sex and drugs scandal in a Miami hotel.


Still, DeSantis did not fare particularly well in the two debates he had with the charismatic and articulate Mayor of Tallahassee. Former Governor Rick Scott was also locked in a tight race with veteran Democrat U.S. Senator Bill Nelson, whose moderate image made him one of the last standing statewide democrats in recent history. Nelson’s status as an astronaut appealed to Florida’s many veterans. Nelson had survived by cultivating a moderate mage in the tradition of Governors Reubin Askew and Lawton Chiles, although Nelson’s voting record and political philosophy was to the left of both southern moderate Democrats. Rick Scott was able to raise and spend millions of his own in his ultimately successful effort to replace Nelson but not without an assist from Donald Trump in the closing days of the campaign.


Donald Trump would alter his schedule to return to Florida twice in the last two weeks of the campaign with massive rallies dragging both DeSantis and Scott over the finish line. A last minute attempt by Broward County Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes to manipulate vote tabulations to steal the election for the Democrats ultimately sputtered and failed. Snipes had long been accused by both Republicans and Democrats for manipulations of vote totals and other inappropriate acts. Governor Ron DeSantis would later fire Snipes.



In the one contact I ever had with Snipes’ office, I requested a breakdown of Republican congressional primary results so that I could see totals by precinct and locality. Snipes would not even provide a breakdown of vote totals in early voting, absentee voting, and election day voting. When I argued that these were public records that should be available – I was told quite bluntly, “Go f*ck yourself. Sue us!”


Ron DeSantis was inaugurated as Governor but former Governor Jeb Bush did not appear for the first swearing-in of the new Governor whom everyone assumed was a Trump Republican. For the first two years of his governorship, DeSantis was an unremarkable Republican Governor who maintained a level of secrecy about his Administration which many in the press corp and the public thought violated the state’s very broad and powerful Sunshine Law.




Even today, the Governor publishes his daily schedule at the end of the day and his schedule is limited only to his official duties and does not inform the press about the hours and days spent and travel he does for fundraising. Freedom of Information requests for records pertaining to the whereabouts and use of the State aircraft are denied to reporters, and therefore the public, on the basis of “security concerns” – even though all of the travel documented would be in the past and release would not endanger future, unannounced travel by the Governor.


DeSantis spent heavily in his re-election bid including massive spending on digital fundraising efforts targeting donors (and voters) in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, as well as targeting areas of the country where large Republican donors are concentrated like Southern California and elsewhere. Heavy spending on network television, cable television, as well as English and Spanish language radio and the use of an ad featuring First Lady Casey DeSantis, have catapulted the Governor to peak popularity in the home state he shares with President Trump. Polls that show DeSantis narrowly leading Trump among Republicans in the Sunshine State are a clear reflection of the hollow created by this massive spending, and therefore such polling is most likely temporary and the race between the two men in Florida would be competitive. DeSantis did use his reelection financial windfall to finance digital advertising outside Florida to begin building a national image in preparation for the 2024 race. Trump, by contrast, headlined rallies to bolster candidates like J.D. Vance in Ohio and Marco Rubio in Florida.


The Governor was also aided by his media savvy and deft handling of Hurricane Ian which struck Florida’s West Coast shortly before the election- essentially freezing coverage of the gubernatorial campaign and effectively keeping the Governor’s Democrat opponent, Charlie Crist, out of the news. This development allowed DeSantis to win reelection by a larger margin than expected, as did a substantial shift among Hispanic voters in both South and Central Florida. DeSantis wisely spent heavily on targeted Spanish language radio.



Even Ron DeSantis, however, recognizes that the America First MAGA constituency in the Florida Republican primary is both dominant and intense. So DeSantis has tried to reposition himself as a Governor who ended the state’s COVID-19 mask mandates, fought the teaching of Critical Race Theory (CRT) in public school curriculums, and also banned the false sexual and gender dogma used to indoctrinate children in the public schools. He famously shipped illegal immigrants dropped in Florida by the Biden Administration to the tony summer watering hole of the liberal elite, Martha’s Vineyard, where the Obamas have an $11.75 million home. A closer examination, however, demonstrates that while the Governor’s able handler Christina Pushaw has a knack for news-making, DeSantis’ positioning doesn’t hold up to public scrutiny; he often says one thing but does something else.


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The mask mandate ban in the public schools came after two years of harsh lockdowns where Floridians were being fined in counties like Palm Beach, Broward, and Miami-Dade for the failure to wear masks in public. DeSantis’ mask mandate ban applies to state schools and state government facilities but does not impose any penalties on private businesses that continue to require them for their employees. Right now, Broward General Hospital in Fort Lauderdale is threatening to terminate numerous nurses who are unvaccinated but decline for health reasons to wear a mask. DeSantis has taken no action. Florida is not mask-free.


The Governor recently petitioned the Florida State Supreme Court to impanel a grand jury for the purposes of investigating whether those who promulgated and manufactured the COVID-19 vaccination misled the people of Florida regarding the vaccinations effectiveness and safety. It is unlikely that the grand jury will indict the state’s foremost cheerleader for the vaccinations and the mask, Governor Ron DeSantis. Additionally, DeSantis signed a law giving those who pushed and made the COVID-19 vaccination full legal immunity.


So DeSantis’ move on vaccinations is largely a political stunt aimed at developing vaccination policy into a wedge issue with President Donald Trump, who still stoutly defends Operation Warp Speed and the development of vaccinations that Trump still believes saved millions of lives. In fact, the positions of Trump and DeSantis are identical. The law DeSantis signed giving immunity to those who push the vaccination expires in June, and giving the largess from Big Pharma in campaign contributions in Tallahassee it is unlikely that the law will not be renewed. Whether DeSantis signs in will be a telling political question.


The Governor made a misstep when he appointed Palm Beach Commissioner David Kerner to head Florida’s State Department of Motor Vehicles and to oversee both the Highway Patrol and Motor Vehicle Division’s records, giving Kerner a back-door to Florida’s voter rolls. Kerner, a liberal Democrat, surprised everyone by endorsing the Republican Governor when it appeared that DeSantis was headed for the landslide that would ultimately manifest itself.



Kerner, however, is a future headache for Governor DeSantis. DeSantis and Kerner both aggressively pushed the Senior Citizen community in Palm Beach County jointly boasting of a 40% vaccination rate among seniors. Kerner, a cold and brutal vaccination advocate and enforcer, used a Palm Beach County COVID-19 Vaccination Compliance Task Force as a jackbooted, uniformed gestapo-like strike-force terrorizing businesses and harassing individual citizens while levying heavy fines on any business owner who declined to require masks or individual citizens who refused to wear them. Kerner even established a “Snitch Line” in which people could report their neighbors, including anyone they wanted to target – including restaurants and other businesses. The Task Force also took photos of citizens and used them to pressure businesses into terminating certain employees. They levied heavy fines on businesses and citizens.


Kerner’s appointment was confirmed by a vote of Governor DeSantis’ cabinet yesterday. Despite protests from DeSantis supporters in Broward and Palm Beach counties, including Chris Nelson of FreeFlorida.Me, as well as activist and nurse Jean-Marie Nacer. The appointment of Kerner will make the DeSantis pivot to rebrand himself as the anti-vaccination candidate difficult.


DeSantis often says one thing but does another. DeSantis garnered huge headlines when he levied a $3.5 million fine against Leon County for not firing county officials over their refusal to obey his anti-mask mandate– but then quietly canceled the fines.


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After generating stories that were politically beneficial before the election, DeSantis then backpedaled by restoring all salaries withheld as penalties against Leon County School Board members who refused to respect his mask mandate ban. Once again, Ron DeSantis grabbed the headline but did something quite different when you examine the facts.


DeSantis has also won the hearts and minds of Florida Republicans by banning efforts to push racial, gender or sex indoctrination in the public schools – but when Broward County, with over 250,000 school children (the 6th largest population in the U.S.), adopted a curriculum recommended by the Anti-Defamation League, which is a classic of Critical Race Theory and White hate, DeSantis did nothing. This is not the only Florida county that has adopted this vile and false narrative to poison the minds of our children. Despite his pre-election headlines, DeSantis, so far, has done nothing to penalize the school boards that are in violation of the state law DeSantis pushed and signed.


DeSantis also profited mightily when he focused his displeasure on the Disney corporation who own and operate a 27,000 acre theme park in the Sunshine State. Disney was caught funding some of those entities fighting DeSantis’s effort to prohibit the proselytizing of race, sex, and gender political dogma in the schools. DeSantis moved quickly to strip Disney of its special tax status- putting them under a system which will make the Mouse pay millions more in state taxes. Disney would respond by giving a $1 million contribution to the bantam governor for his re-election. When word leaked from Tallahassee that talks were going on between the Governor and Disney to restore their tax status, the governor’s office quickly issued a statement denying that there would be any change in public policy toward Disney. Disney has lavished millions in contributions on both legislators and parties in Tallahassee, including DeSantis himself. Few believe that they will not ultimately recover their self-taxing status before the end of DeSantis’ current term.


DeSantis should not be underestimated as a focused, disciplined, and tight-lipped candidate who does not have a wide circle of advisors but who has proved to be a relentless fundraiser – building the largest war-chest in Florida history for his humiliating defeat of former Republican-turned-independent-turned-Democrat Charlie Crist. He will lack no resources for a cage match with former President Trump. Only today, President Trump was asked on David Brody’s show, The Water Cooler, how he felt about DeSantis. Trump said, “I heard DeSantis might want to run against me.”


Trump, with whom I have been friends for 43 years, is one of the most determined, stubborn, and dogged leaders I have ever met when he sets his mind upon a goal. Trump has been vocal about his role in DeSantis’ rise, “I elected him,” he said and is clearly preparing for a clash with his former protégé. “I will handle that the way I handle things,” he told Brody.


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While there have been many published polls in the media that would suggest that DeSantis is favored over Trump in a coming Republican nomination battle; in many cases, the polls are not of actual likely Republican primary voters. Also, in some cases, independents who would not be eligible to vote in the Republican primaries are included in the sample in an attempt to bolster DeSantis’ showing.


More accurate polling would indicate that, nationally, Trump has a veritable lock on 45-50% of Republican primary voters -which is both intense in its support and easily leads all other contenders including DeSantis. In fact, DeSantis would need to clear the field of other potential contenders like South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem, former Secretary of State and CIA Director Mike Pompeo, former National Security Advisor John Bolton, former South Carolina Governor and UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, Governor Brian Kemp (who is actually in Davos this week lining up globalist money for his bid), South Carolina Senator Tim Scott, and others. Trump’s ascension to the nomination would be easier in a split field of challengers.


With the revelations regarding President Joe Biden’s retention of protected and classified documents, the Department of Justice’s efforts to investigate and potentially prosecute Trump for his own handling of documents – which as of this juncture we don’t know whether  were classified or not – can now be seen as the politically motivated witch-hunt that it is. This means that Special Counsel Jack Smith will now shift his focus to the events of January 6th in an effort to fabricate a crime against Trump- preferably a crime for which, if he is convicted, would legally prohibit him from seeking a return to the White House.


How such a charge could go to trial prior to the 2024 election is questionable and, as the raid on Mar-a-Lago shows, the vast majority of Republicans voters rally to Donald Trump when he is under attack; the announcement of charges against a sitting former President could turbocharge Trump’s candidacy and destroy the best laid plans of Governor Ron DeSantis.