As Ron DeSantis finishes his first month in office, many are rashly saying that Florida’s new governor seems to be a more moderate conservative than his predecessor, newly minted Senator Rick Scott.
His agenda appears to focus on areas that were neglected during the Scott era, and his staff appointments have been more diverse than expected.
According to the Tampa Bay Times, DeSantis’ department picks have given Democrats hope that he will be a more moderate governor than he was a candidate – or a congressman.
During the 2018 midterm campaign, many considered DeSantis to be a miniature Donald Trump and a strict conservative because of how closely aligned his campaign tactics were to Trump’s.
DeSantis, 40, received endorsements from Trump throughout the campaign. That gave him an edge over his competitors. He even went as far as having commercial advertisements representing how close his ties were to the Trump administration.
However, his first month in office has sent mixed signals about the type of governor he will be.
Christopher Daniels, a political science professor at Florida A&M University, says it’s too early to tell if he will follow in the footsteps of Scott.
“Gov. DeSantis’ early policy moves has indicated a big investment in environmental restoration, he is also trying to clarify laws on cannabis,” Daniels said. “His policies so far have been more middle ground … It’s also early for differences. He has only put forth a few policies.”
According to the Tampa Bay Times, when Scott took office in 2011, he did so with arguably the most conservative state Legislature in modern history.
While there may be some leniency in his policies so far, there is no doubt that DeSantis is very conservative, said Charles Barrilleaux, a political science professor at Florida State University.
“They (DeSantis and Scott) are similar in that they are very conservative. They are both heading toward private education, charter schools and things like that, limited government,” Barrilleaux said. “I think the one way they have really differed so far is that DeSantis is firing people from Southwest Florida Water Management board and dealing with the issues of red tide.”
Barrilleaux said the appointments were typical and expected because he considered the previous appointee to be a terrible pick from the beginning.
“I think that the man that was initially appointed as secretary of state was an embarrassment,” Barrilleaux said.
As DeSantis settles into office, only time will tell us what type of governor he will be. In six weeks he will give his first State of the State address and the legislative session will get underway.