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Who is Ron DeSantis, the Republican who may challenge Donald Trump?

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100 million dollars raised

“President DeSantis?” Newsweek has devoted its front page to Florida’s Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, who would like nothing more than to move to the White House. The governor has a troublesome figure in his fiefdom, former president Donald Trump, who has taken refuge in his Mar-a-Lago golf course in Palm Beach and hopes to win back the White House. Will Mr. DeSantis, 43, wait until 2028 if Trump runs for re-election in two years, or will he face him in 2024 in a possible Republican primary? No one knows, but Mr. DeSantis, has already raised over $100 million, and is not only preparing for his re-election as governor.

The candidate who surprised everyone

Mr. DeSantis was not well-known when he was campaigning for governor of Florida in 2018. But, backed by Donald Trump, he won by surprise against the African-American Democratic favorite, Andrew Gillum. The Republican candidate has all the hallmarks of a conservative. He earned a degree in history from Yale and a degree in law from Harvard and spent a few years in the Navy. A Catholic, he has three children with his wife, Casey, who has just overcome breast cancer. He is not verbally outrageous like Mr. Trump. At the beginning of his mandate, the governor played the moderate card as he fought against the green algae that polluted the beaches of Florida and banned oil extraction.

The governor who opposed lockdowns

At the beginning of the Covid-19 crisis, Ron DeSantis was one of the few governors to refuse total lockdown. His popularity rating dropped even as images of young people partying on the beaches of Miami circulated on social networks. The final toll was not catastrophic: the death rate in Florida, a state with quite an aging population, was lower than in New York State. Mr. DeSantis orchestrated a series of court battles to ban mask requirements and reopen schools. In the end, Florida emerged stronger from the pandemic, as it welcomed 210,000 new residents in 2021 in search of greener pastures and lower taxes – only Texas did better. This will help the governor to be re-elected for a second term in the November mid-term elections.

The man behind the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law

After Mr. Trump’s defeat in 2020, Mr. DeSantis began to fully support the conservative side of the new “culture wars”, which by then had become a key issue in the confrontation with the Democrats, probably even more important than the economy. On March 28, he pushed through his “Don’t Say Gay” bill that prohibited kindergarten and elementary school teachers from discussing sexual orientation and gender identity. The Walt Disney Group, which operates the massive Disney World theme park and hotels in Orlando, stated that “The ‘Don’t say gay’ bill should never have been passed.” Ron DeSantis replied “I don’t care what Hollywood says,” and pursued the confrontation by having the special tax status Disney has enjoyed in Florida since 1967 revoked.