'In a heartbeat': Analysis explains why Florida Dems believe DeSantis might take the Trump route and attempt a coup

'In a heartbeat': Analysis explains why Florida Dems believe DeSantis might take the Trump route and attempt a coup
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaking at an August 2022 rally in Phoenix, Arizona (Gage Skidmore)

A new analysis is exploring Florida Democratic lawmakers' concerns about the possibility of Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) taking the Trumpian approach in the event he loses the upcoming gubernatorial election.

In a new piece published by HuffPost, S.V. Date posed the question of whether or not the Republican lawmaker would attempt a coup in order to remain in power. "Florida Dems have been watching for four years and have their answer: Yes, in a heartbeat," he wrote.

Since there is a strong possibility DeSantis will win a second term, Date notes that Democrats are concerned about how he's slowly devolving into a "more focused, more capable, more ruthless version of the former president." According to Date, that alone suggests that he would, "without a doubt," do whatever he'd need to in order to maintain power.

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“He is an authoritarian,” said Florida state Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D). “If he were to become president, Katie bar the door on the continuation of our democracy.”

Although former President Donald Trump's coup attempt failed, Date notes that authoritarian experts have warned that his attempt would not be the last. In fact, the next person to attempt a coup might learn from Trump's downfall. Florida resident Carolina Camps, who also president serves as president for the nonpartisan organization, Cuban American Women Supporting Democracy, believes DeSantis falls into that category.

“He’s smarter. He’s ideological. He’s better educated. And he’s competent,” said Camps. “That scares us to death.”

While DeSantis did offer critical remarks about the violence that ensued on January 6, Date also noted that he has "never criticized Trump’s repeated lies about a 'stolen' election that led to that day, nor Trump’s active encouragement on Jan. 6 itself, including a social media post chastising his own vice president for refusing to join Trump’s effort to overturn the election that was followed within minutes by his followers surging past police lines and into the Capitol building."

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Date also pointed to DeSantis' remarks on the one-year anniversary of the Capitol riots. At the time, DeSantis "instead rebuked the news media and Democrats for focusing on investigations into Trump’s central role in efforts to overturn the election and remain in office."

“They are going to take this and milk this for anything they could to try to be able to smear anyone who ever supported Donald Trump,” DeSantis said during a news conference at the time. “And it’s an insult to people when you say it’s an ‘insurrection’ and then, a year later, nobody has been charged with that.”

Former Florida Republican lawmaker David Jolly also explained how DeSantis differs from Trump but is just as dangerous. “Donald Trump is uniquely dangerous with his penchant to ignore any constitutional guardrails, to violate his oath. DeSantis, on the other hand, governs by legally testing those guardrails … but ultimately respects the institutions the Constitution has given us,” Jolly said. “I don’t see him calling a secretary of state and telling him to ‘find’ votes or creating a strategy to prevent Senate certification without merit.”

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