Gov. Ron DeSantis did as he said he would and put three conservative justices on Florida’s Supreme Court immediately after taking office.
Florida Insiders think that move all but guarantees his plans to expand the state’s private school voucher program will survive a constitutional challenge.
Three out of the four campaign operatives, lobbyists, money-raisers, political scientists and other veterans of Florida politics polled by the Tampa Bay Times think that the state Supreme Court will give its blessing to DeSantis’ education agenda, even though the same body rejected a similar approach by former Gov. Jeb Bush.
“Vouchers will survive only because the Florida Supreme Court is much more conservative than the one that banned Bush’s plan," one Democrat said.
Another participant who doesn’t identify as a Democrat or Republican said this: “I suspect the majority on the Florida Supreme Court will easily find grounds to overturn precedent by saying the previous court erred in saying the educational system with vouchers was not uniform and point also to the wide variety of tax credit scholarship programs that have emerged in Florida since that ruling indicating much more widespread use and acceptance of vouchers.”
But 12 percent still think DeSantis will have a harder time getting his voucher plan through the Legislature than any other part of his agenda.
The DeSantis idea that Insiders think has the toughest road ahead, though, is his support for arming teachers, as laid out by the state’s post-Parkland commission. Of the 194 respondents, 41 percent think that it will struggle to get Legislative support.
One in four said that DeSantis’ pitch to buy prescription drugs from Canada is the least likely to get lawmakers’ approval.
The Times also asked this question: Who is the leader of the Florida Republican Party? And there’s no doubt in the mind of Insiders. A whopping 87 percent said it’s DeSantis, while 6 percent gave the nod to Sen. Marco Rubio and just 3 percent to Sen. Rick Scott.
And when it comes to 2020, 73 percent think DeSantis will help President Donald Trump in the critical swing state of Florida. One in four said he won’t matter, while just a couple people thought he would ultimately hurt Trump here.