TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA — Governor Ron DeSantis did more than just win his own gubernatorial race on Tuesday — he also played a pivotal role in the victories of numerous other conservatives running for various elected positions across the state.
Six more of the 30 DeSantis-backed school board candidates won their runoffs on Tuesday, after 18 of them won outright in August. Runoffs occur after no candidate claims 50 percent of the overall vote.
REFORMING PUBLIC SCHOOLS
With the increasing divide over social issues, particularly those related to sexuality and gender, school board races have become increasingly partisan. Many of the governor’s detractors criticized the governor for throwing gasoline on the fire by getting involved. Of course, he has shown a willingness to break unwritten rules and defy conventional wisdom.
DeSantis’ paradigm proved to be a winning formula, garnering the governor a historic 19-point landslide victory over Charlie Crist. He even flipped several counties from blue to red, including Miami-Dade, Palm Beach, Pinellas, Hillsborough, Osceola and Seminole County. The election day results solidified what was already obvious, namely, that DeSantis is a remarkably popular governor.
Reforming public schools has been a top priority for the DeSantis administration and his fellow Republicans in the legislature. Backing school board candidates who support his education agenda, though it may be unconventional, is simply another way to help accomplish that reform.
DESANTIS’ SUPPORT “PUT US OVER THE EDGE”
Putting DeSantis’ name, face and stamp of approval on advertisements makes a huge difference for any candidate. In school board races, which are often decided by hundreds of votes, it can prove decisive.
Stephanie Busin, the DeSantis endorsed school board candidate in Hendry County, won her runoff on Tuesday by just eight votes, according to Politico. Beverly Slough, an incumbent school board member in St. Johns county, sent out mailers with a picture of DeSantis on them even though she never received his endorsement. Slough beat the more conservative Racheal Hand by fewer than 900 votes in Tuesday’s election.
“The support I got from Governor DeSantis is what put us over the edge,” Cindy Spray, the victorious DeSantis-endorsed school board candidate in Manatee County told Fox News on Thursday. “His view of how we need to stay back to the basics of education aligned with what I had viewed. And of course, my grandchildren. You have kids in school, you want to make sure that we're getting the education system that we're actually expecting from the public schools back to the basics and… supporting parental rights.”