The New York Times asked long-time Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau Chief Steve Bousquet to provide some analysis of one of the most high-profile state races in the nation — the governor's race between Republican Ron DeSantis and Democrat Andrew Gillum.
Florida Democrats, Bousquet writes, "are pursuing a novel strategy to reclaim the Governor's Mansion — one that would have been unthinkable even a few years ago. They are rallying behind a young, unapologetically liberal African-American candidate in a swing state where older conservative white voters have dominated five straight midterms."
By picking Gillum, Democrats are abandoning "the futility of centrist politics in these hyperpartisan times. But a base-centered strategy on the left is untested in Florida and polls show a very tight race."
DeSantis is "best recognized for a viral, fawning pro-Trump ad this summer and his remark after Mr. Gillum's primary victory that Florida shouldn't "monkey this up." The subsequent outrage caused some national commentators to write Mr. DeSantis off, but with history firmly on his side, this is his race to lose."
But DeSantis has had trouble connecting on the campaign trail, Bousquet writes.
"DeSantis, a loner by nature, has appeared more at ease on his iPhone than in front of a crowd," Bousquet writes. "His bland, stay-the-course message mostly praises the work of Gov. Rick Scott, who can't run again because of term limits and is challenging Senator Bill Nelson, a vulnerable Democrat. That strategy may not be enough to overcome Mr. Gillum's grass-roots power, according to Mac Stipanovich, a veteran Florida Republican strategist."