Ron DeSantis’s lurch in Florida hurts his presidential chances
An abrupt shift to the right was meant to showcase the governor’s conservative credentials. Instead it has provoked concern
Apr 30th 2023 | Tallahassee
TALLAHASSEE WAS not always Florida’s capital. Two centuries ago lawmakers from Pensacola on the territory’s western coast and St Augustine on the eastern one grew tired of traversing 400 miles to meet. In 1824 Tallahassee was named the capital as a compromise, because it was in the middle. Today middle ground and compromise have vanished in Tallahassee, where the governor’s office and both chambers of the legislature are controlled by Republicans. On May 5th Florida’s lawmakers will conclude their annual session, which will be remembered as a conservative tide washing over the state.
“Four sessions’ worth of legislation” was done in one session, boasts Paul Renner, the Republican speaker of the Florida House: “In scope, it is unlike any other.” Ideas that for decades were politically unfeasible have been signed into law. These include a ban on abortions after six weeks of gestation, the “permitless carry” of guns (requiring no training or background check) and a “universal” school-voucher scheme. (Parents can use public-school funds to send their children to private schools or teach them at home, regardless of income.)