TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — President Donald Trump and Governor Ron DeSantis are often considered close political allies. Some even credit Trump for helping DeSantis clinch the governor’s race in 2018.
But will that alliance become a liability for the president, as polls show growing disapproval for Florida’s governor?
8 On Your Side took that question to party leaders and voters because without Florida, the president won’t keep the White House.
Paul Santiago describes himself as a virtually lifelong Republican. Despite that, he says it’s not likely he’ll ever vote for DeSantis again.
That’s because he blames the governor for failing to fix the state’s unemployment crisis, which put him through a nightmare after the pandemic shut his job down.
“Very few Republicans stepped up to the plate, so I think they’re going to pay the price in the election,” Santiago told 8 On Your Side.
But will that disenchantment extent to the top of the ticket? While DeSantis isn’t up for re-election until 2022, he’s often seen as the Florida face of the Trump administration.
The pandemic dealt a blow to his reputation.
A poll released this week by Florida Atlantic University found 48 percent of Floridians disapproved of the governor’s performance. Prior to the pandemic, DeSantis was widely considered one of the most popular governors in America.
The same poll gave Trump a 51 percent disapproval rating, nearly in lockstep with DeSantis.
That comes as no surprise for Hillsborough County Democratic Party chair Ione Townsend. That’s because she feels there’s very little daylight between Trump and DeSantis policy.
“I think locally what DeSantis does has reinforced everyone’s opinion of how Trump has handled the COVID virus,” Townsend said.
Hillsborough GOP chair Jim Waurishuk strongly disagrees.
“Is the governor’s slipping approval a political liability for the president, here in Hillsborough and across Florida?” 8 On Your Side investigative reporter Victoria Price asked.
“Not at all,” Waurishuk replied. “I haven’t seen anything from that standpoint. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.”
Citing the hundreds of thousands of Floridians caught up in the state’s unemployment failures, Paul Santiago believes DeSantis could wind up being a deadweight for the president come November 3. Even so, it’s still not enough to turn his entire ballot blue.
“As far as president, still Trump for me,” he said.
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