Who Is Ron DeSantis?

Ron DeSantis is, of course, the Republican nominee for Governor of Florida.  He was also, until the day after he was nominated, an administrator of the Tea Party Facebook Group.  Other Tea Party group administrators included Corey Stewart, the notorious white supremacist Republican candidate for US Senate from Virginia and Kelli Ward who was John McCain’s Republican primary opponent two years ago.  All three have been endorsed by Donald Trump at one point or another.

Screen shot of a posting on the Tea Party Facebook page in which Maria Rubino-Decowski acknowledges Virginia Republican US Senate candidate Corey Stewart as a group administrator
Facebook Tea Party group acknowledges Corey Stewart as one of its group administrators

The same day that Ron DeSantis made his famous monkey gaffe on Fox TV, DeSantis, Stewart and Ward’s names disappeared from the administrator list, but as you can see, there is ample evidence of their leadership positions within the group.

Screen shot of Tea Party acknowledgement that Ron DeSantis is in fact a group administrator

It is worth looking at some of the Tea Party postings that happened while Ron DeSantis, Kelli Ward and Corey Stewart were group administrators.  Here are some examples of the group’s thoughts about the late Senator John McCain.  You can click on most of these images and go straight to the place on the Tea Party Group Facebook page where you can find the original post and all the comments that Tea Party members have made on that post.

Screen shot of a post in the Tea Party Facebook group.  The post calls the late Senator John McCain a traitor
Ron DeSantis’ Tea Party Facebook group proposed this tombstone for John McCain

Screen shot of a post to the Tea Party Facebook group on August 26, 2018 at 9:12 PM.  The dead rhinoceros is a reference to a derisive term used by right wing extremists -- Republican In Name Only (RINO).  Applying that term ot John McCain gives silly a whole new meaning
RINO means Republican In Name Only

The Tea Party Facebook has some strong opinions about President Barack Obama and his family

Screen shot of a cartoon posted to the Tea Party Facebook group on July 12, 2017.  The cartoon shows a caricature of President Obama being addressed as "boy"
This is one of the group’s cartoons about Barack Obama

Image calls First Lady Michele Obama a man
And this is the group’s comment on the Obama family

A sign written in English and Arabic.  The sign does not appear to say the same thing in both languages.  The English says "Welcome to Kenya, Birthplace of Barack Obama"
and of course, the group has the fairy tale about President Obama’s birthplace

The Tea Party Facebook group that Ron DeSantis administered has opinions about the kids who survived the shootings at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School.

The group had some opinions about the massacre at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas HS

Screen shot of a post to the Tea Party Facebook page on May 18, 2018.  The image shows Parkland shooting survivor David Hogg dressed as Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz.  The Santa Fe road sign is an oblique reference to a right wing conspiracy theory that the Parkland students faked the shooting at their high school
and they have opinions about David Hogg as well

In June of this year, somebody made a crank call to the Broward County Sheriff. They falsely reported that there was an active shooter at David Hogg’s house.  The danger here is that the police arrive at the scene expecting to find an armed bad guy.  Nobody at the house expects police.  It is extremely easy for innocent people to get hurt in such a situation.  The Tea Party group on Facebook postulated that David Hogg called the SWAT team on himself in order to get attention.

Tea Party group opinion of a life threatening false alarm at David Hogg’s house 

Ron DeSantis, the Trump endorsed Republican nominee for Governor of Florida was until just a few days ago, an administrator of the Facebook group that published these posts and a whole lot more.  I think Alan Ehrlich is correct to ask if Republicans know who they nominated.  See Alan’s post  https://www.bluebroward.org/2018/08/30/do-republicans-have-any-idea-who-desantis-is/

Gwen Graham Needs to Run for Governor (Not “First Woman Governor”)

I was very impressed by Gwen Graham’s recent appearance at the Broward Democratic Party’s monthly meeting. That’s why I was so distressed to see her making what I believe is a serious tactical mistake at the Florida Democratic Party conference held this weekend at The Diplomat in Hollywood.

At least on Friday night, she appeared to be running for “First Woman Governor of Florida” rather than just running for governor. I hope she rethinks that.

Too many pink balloons.

The Friday night event centered on a series of receptions sponsored by each of the Democratic candidates or statewide office, all held at the same time, which made it possible to hop from room to room for those (like me and my wife Beth Anne) who had friends in multiple campaigns. One of the first things we saw, when we walked into the hotel was a sign saying “Women for Graham,” with an arrow pointing the way down the hall to the event. Funny enough, the sign was being held by a man.

Upstairs, there were a series of additional directional signs pointing to her event, all labeled “Women for Graham.” Did that mean men weren’t invited? Surely, that wasn’t the intention. I thought maybe that just meant those were the signs they happened to have the most of, and they needed to deploy them to get the people to the right ballroom, since she hadn’t captured one of the locations closer to the entrance.

But we walked into the Graham reception just in time to see her up on stage surrounded by women supporters and pink balloons. I am sure she talked about other important issues, besides the gender of the candidates, but I didn’t stick around to listen to the rest.

For the record, I like women candidates when they are the best candidates. Last time around, I voted for Nan Rich as the more authentic Democratic candidate for governor and was disappointed that the powers that be were so determined to anoint former Republican Charlie Crist as the “can’t lose” candidate.

On the other hand, spending too much time running for “First Woman” in any office has not proven to be a winning strategy. Both Alex Sink and Hillary Clinton made that mistake from time to time. Hillary was at her best when she treated the subject with humor, as when her campaign created a plastic “woman card” to counter the trope about “playing the woman card.” Barack Obama famously avoided campaigning for “First Black President,” perhaps downplaying the importance of race to a fault — but winning in the end.

For Gwen Graham to hold “Women for Graham” events would be a smart way of engaging women who are particularly passionate about electing women candidates. I’m just disappointed that she made that the theme of a event for Democrats from across the state where she should have been making her case to everyone, even the men — which was what every other candidate was doing Friday night.

Gwen Graham remains one of the candidates with the best chance of winning the nomination. In reality, I don’t think she is a one-note candidate. As I mentioned, I was impressed by her appearance at the Broward Democratic Party where she addressed a wide range of issues and stayed to answer everyone’s questions, including some moderately hostile ones.

(Update: At the state party dinner Saturday night, the pink signs were gone, or at least not as prominent, and Graham’s message was broader, more like what she delivered at the Broward party meeting.)

I can’t help thinking she got talked into this “Women for Graham” focus by someone who underestimated her appeal to all Democrats. Whether it could be a strategy for winning the nomination, I don’t honestly know. But in the long run, I think it’s a trap. To actually win the governorship, she will have to run for governor, not woman governor, and win votes from all Floridians, even the men.