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DeSantis vs. DeSantis: 4 times the Florida governor changed his tune lately

How it started and how it’s going, Florida edition.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announces his proposal to give $1000 bonuses to school principals and teachers in Florida during a press conference on Wednesday, March 31, 2021, at Palm Harbor University High School.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announces his proposal to give $1000 bonuses to school principals and teachers in Florida during a press conference on Wednesday, March 31, 2021, at Palm Harbor University High School. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD ]
Published Apr. 22
Updated Apr. 22

The following first appeared in the Buzz political newsletter, a weekly dive into the power, politics and influence shaping Florida from Political Editor Steve Contorno and the Tampa Bay Times politics team. To subscribe and receive it in your email inbox each week, click here.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis certainly isn’t afraid to speak his mind. Most days, if he’s not on Fox News, he’s in front of local media cameras somewhere in the Sunshine State.

He’s the most powerful figure in the third largest state and considered by some the future of his political party. As it is, we’re paying close attention to every word. And lately, we’ve noticed some inconsistencies in what he once said versus what he’s saying now. Here are four examples.

Florida’s broken unemployment system

How it started: DeSantis last year was surprised that Florida’s unemployment benefit was $275 – one of the lowest in the country. The moment was captured on camera here.

How it’s going: Fast forward to 2021, and DeSantis has no interest in raising weekly benefits. “Our unemployment is what it is,” DeSantis said last week. “It’s fine.” His new outlook has the potential to jeopardize the most meaningful set of reforms to Florida’s unemployment system in years.

The killing of George Floyd

How it started: Like many Americans, DeSantis last year said he was outraged after video emerged of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck during an arrest. He didn’t shy away from calling the act “murder.”

“When I saw the video of that cop murdering George Floyd, I was just absolutely appalled by what I saw,” he said at the time.

How it’s going: But this week, DeSantis told Fox News’ Laura Ingraham that he thought Chauvin’s conviction may have come because “the jury is scared of what a mob may do.”

Transgender issues

How it started: In 2018, Republicans across the country proposed new laws that required men and women to use the bathrooms assigned to them at birth. DeSantis, a candidate for governor, spoke at a Christian forum and said of wading into that kind of transgender debate: “I don’t think that’s a good use of our time.”

How it’s going: Three years later, Republicans have are now trying to limit the participation of transgender people in girls’ and women’s athletics. DeSantis has said he’s for it, though he isn’t the driving force behind it. This week we learned that bill may be dead, at least in 2021.

The 2020 election

How it started: Florida had one of the smoothest elections in the country last year, and DeSantis certainly deserves some of the credit. During the pandemic, he made the call to give local election offices more time to count mail-in and early ballots. And he was quick to point out Florida’s success compared to other states.

“The way Florida did it, I think inspires confidence,” he said. “I think that’s how elections should be run.”

How it’s going: Not long after making that statement, DeSantis ordered a crack down on voting-by-mail. He called on lawmakers to eliminate ballot drop boxes, change signature matching laws (did you see this story?) and require people to re-register for mail-in ballots every year.