June 6, 2022 Updated 4:34 P.M. ET
TALLAHASSEE (FLV) – Democrats in Florida are losing their grip on the sunshine state as Democrat voter registration numbers dip and donors pull their resources, leaving the party in “disarray” and with poor leadership, according to Florida Republicans.
“The Democrat Party is in shambles and that’s why I think a lot of their supporters are fleeing for the hills,” Rep. Jason Fischer said.
Gov. Ron DeSantis rose to popularity within the Republican Party when he went against the grain to keep the state open during the coronavirus pandemic.
“And he started opening things back up and talking about freedom and liberty,” Fischer said. “I think DeSantis really was the catalyst for bringing more voters into the Republican Party.”
Florida has seen extraordinary economic growth since reopening the state. Florida’s job growth rate exceeded the United State’s rate which DeSantis said is due to his decision to keep the state’s economy open. Florida will also have more than $20 billion in reserves, making it the largest budget surplus in the state’s history.
DeSantis’ policies are in stark contrast to Democratic-run states that required masks and vaccine passports, which sent residents fleeing to Florida.
“The symptoms currently plaguing the Democrat Party in Florida point back to the virus that is the failed leadership in Washington DC and the disastrous extreme anti-American values leading the state and local Democrats further away from their constituents,” said Lee County GOP Chairman Jonathan Martin.
Republican State Rep. Spencer Roach said Democrats have a “failing strategy” that turns voters away from the Democratic Party.
“Their entire platform is to be against whatever Ron DeSantis does, but they’re never telling the voters what they’re for, what they have to offer, and what they can do better,” Roach said.
“In any election year a campaign has just been being the opposite of what the majority party is doing. It’s not enough to convince voters that you have a better plan.”
Republicans said the Democratic Party also lacks leadership. Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried became the first Democrat in 12 years to win a Cabinet seat in 2018 in Florida. Fried has also launched a campaign to run for Governor in Florida.
“I know how to win as a democrat in Florida and I’m ready to win again — let’s remove Ron DeSantis,” Fried said on Twitter.
However, Fried’s leadership as the only statewide Democrat did not stop the wave of voters registering as Republican when Gov. Ron DeSantis took office in 2018. Fried continuously criticizes DeSantis for his anti-lockdown approach and other parental rights legislation. Florida’s Voice asked the Fried campaign multiple times about the Democratic Party losing steam while she has been in office, but did not receive a comment.
Fried now campaigns against former Governor and Congressman Charlie Crist for the Democratic nomination in the gubernatorial race. Crist was previously part of the Republican Party, then switched to Independent, and now has declared himself a Democrat.
“You can tell Florida Democrats are in trouble when Charlie Crist and Nikki Fried are the best candidates they can offer. From what we are told, Democrat donors would agree,” Republican Party of Florida Executive Director Helen Aguirre Ferre said.
Roach said the Democratic Party in Florida is also left with a leadership void in the Florida Legislature.
Democratic Ranking Member Rep. Ben Diamond, D-St. Petersburg, will not seek reelection in the Florida House in order to run for congress. Minority Leader Evan Denne, D-Dania Beach, is termed out.
State Rep. Ramon Alexander, D-Tallahassee, was supposed to serve as the next top Democrat for the Florida House. Alexander announced he would not seek reelection in the wake of sexual harassment allegations.
Minority Leader Sen. Lauren Book, D-Broward County, has previously fundraised for other Democrats but now faces a heated contested race in her own district.
“They are in complete disarray. They do not have a leader. They are rudderless,” Roach said. “And all of that is just adding to their confusion and disunity and lack of planning, lack of purpose and just lack of cohesion.”
Democratic Ranking Member Rep. Michael Grieco, D-Miami Beach, announced he would not seek reelection citing a lack of resources from the “Tallahassee Establishment” as a main reason.
“Our campaign’s predicted lack of necessary resources is not from the absence of local community support, but from the lack of a backbone by the Tallahassee establishment that talks a good game but fails to walk the walk when dedicated public servants choose to stick their necks out for their community,” Grieco said on Twitter.
For Grieco, he said the fundraising gap in the Senate District 36 race against Republican Sen. Lleana Garcia was around $3 million. But Grieco said the issue with lack of resources is much bigger than his campaign as “historical, traditional and philosophical” donors pull out of supporting elections like his.
Democratic strategists told the Miami Herald that liberal grassroots groups are pulling back their efforts in Florida. Activists are reducing staff and scaling back voter-outreach efforts as out-of-state donors have decided to put their money elsewhere.
“Floridians embrace Governor DeSantis because he has their back and is leading with common sense policies that work. Governor DeSantis has single handedly redefined Republican leadership and has raised the bar for others to follow,” Helen Aguirre Ferre said.
“On-the-other-hand, Florida Democrats running for governor lack any accomplishments to speak of and can’t protect Floridians from the policy horrors created by Biden.”
Most recent data shows Republicans had 135,000 more registrations compared to Democrats in April. In 2018, Democrats had 257,000 more registered voters than Republicans. Gov. Ron DeSantis was sworn into office in 2019.
“I think Governor DeSantis is really to thank for accelerating the migration of voters towards the Republican Party,” Rep. Jason Fischer said. “He was able to stand up when everybody else was afraid of Joe Biden, when other governors were continuing to keep their states locked down.”
Florida’s Voice reached out multiple times to the Florida Democratic Party for a comment.
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