POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — After more than a year of speculation, Gov. Ron DeSantis has filed paperwork to run for President.
Republican and conservative-leaning voters who spoke to News Channel 8 Wednesday said they are rooting for him.
“I love it. I love what he’s been doing for Florida. I think he’s a great guy,” said Asher Hendon, a Republican voter from Lakeland. “I don’t really want to lose him as governor for Florida but I’m interested to see what he’s going to do.”
Some voters said they would be voting for him over the Republican frontrunner, former President Donald Trump, who also happens to be one of DeSantis’ constituents in Florida.
“So many people don’t like [Trump]. Personally I like him. I think he’s a feisty, interesting guy, but I think DeSantis has got a better chance,” said Michael Walke, an independent voter.
“I would like to see [DeSantis] win to be honest with you because I’m a little sick of Trump. Trump’s getting a little bit shady,” said Rocco Russo, a Republican voter who lives in Auburndale.
Republican voter John Knobloch said it was a “shame” Trump did not win in 2020, but feels it is time to move on.
“The young people are looking for something new and I’m a Trump person, don’t get me wrong, but he does too much mudslinging,” he said.
Knobloch mentioned other presidential candidates Nikki Haley and Sen. Tim Scott as also offering “new blood.”
Former Polk County School Board member and no-party affiliated voter Billy Townsend is no fan of DeSantis, calling the governor “wooden.”
“Nobody wants to have a beer with him. He’s a terrible retail campaigner. Florida’s a weird state and he has done well in Florida, but he’s not gonna get through Trump,” he said. “He picks strange fights that don’t benefit anybody. Home insurance is doubling for people and he’s trying to punch Mickey Mouse.”
There are more than 176,013 voters registered as Republican in Polk County and 142,410 no-party affiliated and minor party voters, according to the Polk County Supervisor of Elections Office.
In 2016, Donald Trump won the Republican presidential primary in Polk County with 45% of the vote.
In 2018, DeSantis lost the Republican gubernatorial primary in Polk County by 36 points.
Those elections were before Trump served in the White House, was impeached twice and DeSantis rose to national prominence during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Katherine Allen, an independent voter from Brandon who visited Lakeland Wednesday, said she will not support DeSantis.
“I’m a woman and just for his opinions on controlling my body and my future little girls and just the lack of gun safety, liberalizing that law, I’m not in support of that,” she said.
Another visiting voter, Calvin Walker, a Democrat, said both Trump and DeSantis have changed the country for the worse.
“I don’t know who is worse, him or Trump. I hate to say that. Sorry,” he said.