DOVER, Fla. (WFLA) – Gov. Ron DeSantis urged Hillsborough County voters not to take his re-election for granted Wednesday as the race for Florida governor tightens.
“Don’t take anything for granted. Understand that freedom isn’t free. It’s something that you gotta fight for in a variety of ways,” said DeSantis, who is seeking his second term as governor.
The Republican was at the Florida Strawberry Growers Association as the Florida Farm Bureau Federation’s FarmPAC announced its endorsement of DeSantis.
“Governor DeSantis understands the value of hard work and dedication, which translates to efforts that allow our industry to thrive,” Florida Farm Bureau President Jeb Smith said.
DeSantis won his first gubernatorial race in 2018, against Andrew Gillum, by just half a percentage point.
A lot has happened since then. DeSantis has gained national prominence, namely for his pandemic-era policies.
His opponent this time around is Charlie Crist, a well-known Democrat, who was once Florida’s Republican governor.
Crist railed against DeSantis’ performance on property insurance during a press conference in Jacksonville Wednesday.
“DeSantis is so busy running for president in 2024, he’s forgotten about you and using Florida as a stepping stone,” said Crist.
A new AARP poll shows the race between the two men tightening, with DeSantis getting 50% of support from likely voters and Crist at 47%. The margin of error for the poll is 4.4%.
One political analyst says people are now starting to pay attention.
“There’s an old saying in Florida politics that people really get engaged after Labor Day,” said Dr. Susan MacManus, professor emerita at the University of South Florida.
Dr. MacManus points out, in the past, frontrunners in Florida were lucky to get a one-point lead. So Democrats, and the Crist campaign, still have work to do.
“Three percent is better than Democrats have seen in a while but it’s still not where they want or need to be to win Florida,” she said.
Dr. MacManus said Crist has to motivate people of color and young people to vote.
The AARP poll shows DeSantis with a seven-point lead over Crist among voters over the age of 50.