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Florida Insider Poll: What Grade did Ron DeSantis earn in his first month as governor?

And what about Rick Scott?
Ron DeSantis announces plans to invest in Florida workforce programs at Tampa Bay Technical High School on Jan. 30, 2019 in Tampa, FL. DeSantis says he wants to take Florida from 24th in the nation to first in workforce preparation.
TAILYR IRVINE | Times Ron DeSantis announces plans to invest in Florida workforce programs at Tampa Bay Technical High School on Jan. 30, 2019 in Tampa, FL. DeSantis says he wants to take Florida from 24th in the nation to first in workforce preparation.
Published Feb. 14, 2019
Updated Feb. 14, 2019

Florida’s political class gives new Gov. Ron DeSantis high marks for his first 30 days in office.

Nine out of 10 of the campaign operatives, lobbyists, money-raisers, political scientists and other veterans of Florida politics graded the Republican’s fast start as a B or better.

And it’s not just fellow GOPers who think DeSantis has done well since his inauguration. Of the 80 Democrats surveyed, the vast majority gave him an "A" or a "B" while just one marked him down for a “F.”

“He is already radically re-making the image and perception of a Republican Governor on environmental issues specifically with regard to the Everglades and Red Tide," one Democrat wrote. “He has taken quick action to remove elected officials who haven’t executed their job faithfully. He’s made ‘smoking of medical pot’ a major issue and has drawn a line in the sand with the legislature and he will eventually win on this issue ... All of this makes him a different kind of Republican and certainly it’s an 180-degree turn from the administration of Governor Rick Scott. I believe that Gov. DeSantis is out to re-make the image of Republicans in Florida and that will go a long way in changing the public’s thinking of GOP elected officeholders.”

Still, others cautioned there are more difficult days ahead, especially when the more conservative factions of his party in the House and Senate begin to scrutinize his budget.

“He will be tested when it’s time to veto member projects and fight for affordable housing money,” said one Democrat.

A Republican said: "He has set the bar very high. Can he sustain it? Vital is how he establishes his turf vs. the House and Senate. Is he more a cheerleader for particular bills, or does he lobby on their behalf. His Governorship has already been unique and original but does he assume a new role during the legislative session? "

Meanwhile, Scott’s first month received much less love from our insiders. Results were decidedly split from A to F.

“Rick Scott can’t stand the fact that he is the junior Senator to Senator (Marco) Rubio,” wrote one unaffiliated insider, who gave Scott a “F.” “He will not be told how to vote by Senator (Mitch) McConnell.”

Speaking of Rubio, while he must now share the spotlight in D.C. with a fellow Republican, Florida Insiders still see the younger and nationally recognized Rubio as the more compelling political figure.

Perhaps we should have asked if who is the more compelling Florida Republican going forward. Many of the Insiders saw the struggle for supremacy in the GOP between DeSantis, Scott and Rubio as a major storyline to watch this year.

“Who becomes the Republican standard bearer in Florida, DeSantis, Scott, or Rubio,” one Republican said. “Who’s party is it?”

The answer: Donald Trump’s. The Insiders expect the president to spend a lot of time in this battleground in 2019 while the Democrats are forced to spend time in early primary states.

More than half the Insiders said Trump will be in Florida four or more times over the next 11 months.

More poll results coming tomorrow.

The Times regularly surveys some of Florida’s campaign staff, party leaders, consultants, operatives, fundraisers, prognosticators and other well-known politicos. We allow participants to weigh-in anonymously to encourage honesty from people closely involved in the political process, but we always print the name of all the participants. This month’s Florida Insiders are:

Joseph Abruzzo , Erin Aebel, Tom Alte, Jason Altmire, Gayle Andrews, Scott Arceneaux, Donna Arduin, Dave Aronberg, Brad Ashwell, Rick Asnani, Jon M. Ausman, Tim Baker, Ryan Banfill, Scott Barnhart, Rodney Barreto, Alan Becker, Geoffrey Becker, Samuel Bell, Ron Bilbao, Barney Bishop, Greg Blair, Katie Bohnett, Rick Boylan, Matt Bryan, Bob Buckhorn, Alex Burgos, Dominic M. Calabro, Kristy Campbell, Dean Cannon, Tim Canova, Al Cardenas, Reggie Cardozo, Chip Case, Kevin Cate, Chris Cate, Mitch Ceasar, Jill Chamberlin, Jim Cherry, Alan Clendenin, Brad Coker, David Colburn, Mike Colodny, Gus Corbella , Mathew Corrigan, Jon Costello, Brian Crowley, Ana Cruz, Husein Cumber, Richard DeNapoli, Lourdes Diaz, Pablo Diaz, Victor DiMaio, Tony DiMatteo, Michael Dobson, Doc Dockery, Paula Dockery, Brett Doster, John Dowless, Bob Doyle, Ryan Duffy, Barry Edwards, Eric Eikenberg, Mike Fasano, Peter Feaman, Mark Ferrulo, Damien Filer, Marty Fiorentino, Mark Foley, Kirk Fordham, Brian Franklin, Towson Fraser, Ellen Freidin, John French, Jack Furnari, Tom Gaitens, Josh Geise, Richard Gentry, Brian Goff, Alma Gonzalez, Ron Greenstein, Thomas Grigsby, Joe Gruters, Mike Hamby, Marion Hammer, Abel Harding, James Harris, James Harris, Jack Hebert, Alex Heckler, Rich Heffley, Bill Helmich, Cynthia Henderson, Mike Hightower , Don Hinkle, Brian Hughes, Erin Isaac, Aubrey Jewett, David Johnson, Christina Johnson, Jeff Johnson , Stafford Jones, Ken Jones, Eric Jotkoff, Doug Kaplan, Fred Karlinsky, Fred Karlinsky, Joshua Karp, Henry Kelley, John Konkus, Chris Korge, Kartik Krishnaiyer, Bill Lee, Jackie Lee, Matt Lettelleir, Alan Levine, Jack Levine, Tom Lewis, Stephanie Lewis-McClung, Beth Leytham, Susan MacManus, Jose Mallea, Roly Marante, William March, Beth Matuga, Kim McDougal, Nancy McGowan, clarence mckee, Kathy Mears, David Mica, Jon Mills, Paul Mitchell, Pete Mitchell, Edward Miyagishima, Travis Moore, John Morgan, Lucy Morgan, Pat Neal, Maurizio Passariello, Alex Patton, Darryl Paulson, Anthony Pedicini, Jorge Pedraza, Juan Penalosa, Joe Perry, Sean Phillippi, Gretchen Picotte, Ron Pierce, JC Planas, Benjamin Pollara, Van Poole, David Rancourt, Susannah Randolph, Ryan Ray, Marc Reichelderfer, George Riley, Jim Rimes, Franco Ripple, Terrie Rizzo, Patrick Roberts, Monica Rodriguez , Jason Rosenberg , Jason Roth, Sarah Rumpf, Ron Sachs, April Salter, Tom Scarritt, Steve Schale , Tom Scherberger , April Schiff, Kathleen Shanahan, stephen shiver, Bud Shorstein, Alex Sink, Patrick Slevin, Susan Smith, Adam Smith, John Stemberger, Alan Stonecipher, Nancy Texeira , Phillip Thompson, Greg C. Truax, Frank Tsamoutales, Greg Turbeville, Jason Unger, Gregory Ungru, Steven Vancore, Nancy Watkins, Robert Watkins, Screven Watson, Kevin Watson, John Wehrung, Mike Williams, Jamie Wilson, Rick Wilson, Leslie Wimes, Jon Woodard, Jeff Wright, Mark Zubaly.


  1. Visitors head to Florida's Old Capitol building on Tuesday, the first day of the annual session. The same day, the advocacy group Equality Florida denounced four bills filed by Republican lawmakers, calling them “the most overtly anti-LGBTQ agenda from the Florida legislature in recent memory.” [SCOTT KEELER  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    Most of the bills try to eliminate local ordinances, and Republicans say they’ve been unfairly labeled.
  2. Attorney Joseph Bondy tweeted this photo of his client, Lev Parnas (right) with former Florida attorney general Pam Bondi on Friday, Jan. 17. Bondi on Friday was named on of President Donald Trump's impeachment lawyers. [Twitter]
    Parnas’ lawyer tweeted out the photo of the former Florida attorney general along with #TheyAllKnew.
  3. Florida Senator Rob Bradley, R- Fleming Island, watches the action on the first day of the session, 1/14/2020.  [SCOTT KEELER  |  TAMPA BAY TIMES]
    A popular bill would allow judges to dole out punishments less than the mandatory minimum sentences spelled out in state law for many drug crimes if the defendant meets certain criteria.
  4. Vice President Mike Pence take selfies with supporters after giving a campaign speech during the "Keep America Great" rally at the Venetian Event Center at St. Mark the Evangelist Catholic Church in Tampa, Florida on Thursday, January 16, 2020.  [OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times]
    ‘Come November the American people are going to have our say,’ Pence said.
  5. Rep. Stan McClain, an Ocala Republican, presents a bill that would allow Florida public colleges and universities to sponsor charter schools, during a January 2020 meeting of the House PreK-12 Innovation subcommittee. [The Florida Channel]
    Alternative authorizers have been found unconstitutional in the past. But that isn’t stopping the effort.
  6. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, members of the Florida Cabinet, left, and the Florida Supreme Court, right, stand at attention as the colors are posted in the Florida Senate during the first day of the Florida legislative session in Tallahassee, Tuesday, January 14, 2020.  [SCOTT KEELER  |  TAMPA BAY TIMES]
    The court ruled that Amendment 4‘s “all terms of sentence” include the payment of all court fees, fines and restitution.
  7. Thousands rallied and marched from the Donald L. Tucker Civic Center to the Florida Historic Capitol to demand more money for public schools Monday, Jan. 13, 2020. Thousands of school workers from around the state thronged Florida's Capitol on Monday to press Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Legislature to more than double the nearly $1 billion the governor is proposing for teacher raises and bonuses.  (Tori Lynn Schneider/Tallahassee Democrat via AP) [TORI LYNN SCHNEIDER  |  AP]
    The PreK-12 Appropriations subcommittee cutting exercise would come in nearly 25 percent below Gov. Ron DeSantis’ proposal.
  8. Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.,, center, speaks as fellow candidates businessman Tom Steyer, from left, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., former Vice President Joe Biden, former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn. listen, Tuesday during a Democratic presidential primary debate hosted by CNN and the Des Moines Register in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky) [PATRICK SEMANSKY  |  AP]
    The candidates’ proposals reveal differences in how they plan to approach the issue.
  9. Vice President Mike Pence points to supporters before speaking during a campaign rally at the Huntington Center, Thursday, Jan. 9, 2020, in Toledo, Ohio. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak) [TONY DEJAK  |  AP]
    Vice President Mike Pence will take the stage in New Tampa, at the Venetian Event Center at St. Mark the Evangelist Catholic Church, at 1:30 p.m. It wasn’t planned that way.
  10. <Samsung D70 / D75 / S730 / S750>
    For the first time since he was nominated by Gov. Ron DeSantis for the job of Florida Surgeon General, Scott Rivkees appeared before senators to answer questions that have been percolating for nine...