Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis isn't waiting for a Democratic Party challenger to formally emerge from the state's Aug. 23 gubernatorial primary before launching a campaign offensive.
On Wednesday, the Republican governor's promotional team released an ad that takes a thinly veiled shot at Rep. Charlie Crist, the Democratic challenger who might implement a restrictive platform with Florida residents next year — if elected — including a potential mask mandate.
The DeSantis ad proudly proclaims that "freedom is here to stay," while also characterizing the state of Florida as "America's liberty outpost" — in a world of censorship, government overreach on personal freedoms, and left-leaning activists wanting to discuss sexual matters with schoolchildren.
The last component references DeSantis signing the Parental Rights in Education bill a few months ago, a state law that expressly prohibits classroom discussions on sexual orientation and/or gender identity with children in kindergarten through third grade.
DeSantis' narrated ad reads: "America has long been the world's bastion of freedom. Now, Florida is our nation's hope. ... When other states shut people down [during the 2020-21 pandemic], Florida lifted people up. We make decisions based on facts, not fear. But some want to take it all away. We cannot stop fighting."
The narrator then concludes: "This November, let's show the world freedom is here to stay."
DeSantis' campaign team cites Wednesday's release as the governor's second TV and digital ad of this campaign cycle.
The first spot featured residents from all corners of Florida expressing their support for DeSantis, through personalized letters.
Real Clear Politics, which has been tracking the House, Senate and gubernatorial races for the November midterms, has Crist — Florida's governor from 2007 to 2011, while representing the Republican Party — as the prohibitive favorite to win the state's Democratic primary.
In the subsequent general election, however, RCP has DeSantis owning an aggregate lead of 8.8 percentage points over Crist.
The governor's wife, Casey DeSantis, shared the campaign ad on Twitter, with the following text:
"@RonDeSantisFL has received thousands of letters from across the state and around the world thanking him for his leadership. And I can tell you this, he’s only begun to fight."
Crist, who has represented Florida's 13th Congressional District since 2017, announced his candidacy for governor last year.
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