The political world is talking about whether Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has what it takes to run for President, but remarks Monday suggest the Governor is more focused, for now, on smaller stakes, namely school boards and replicating the formula that led to a successful 2022 cycle.
A majority of his endorsed candidates for school board won, his latest in a series of existential challenges to the educational establishment.
“The school board races in 2024 I think give us an opportunity to flip some more of these boards throughout the state of Florida,” DeSantis said to applause at an Orlando “The Freedom Blueprint” event Monday afternoon.
“And I know there’s definitely been individual school board members who have been very obnoxious over these last few years, with how they handled COVID, masking, and all these different things,” DeSantis elaborated, not offering examples of “obnoxious” board members.
“They’re free to do that, but they’re representing constituencies that agree with us on all these issues, not agree with them on those issues.”
“We need to make sure we have good candidates ready to go in a lot of these races, and we will help to illuminate the contrast in those races,” DeSantis continued. “And I think you’re going to see really, really positive results in 2024.”
August races are best for conservative candidates, he added, given the difficulty of educating voters amid a crowded November ballot.
“You know who’s likely to vote in that election,” DeSantis said. “General elections are more difficult because there’s a lot more people who vote than in a Primary.”
“We don’t need to have five conservatives run against one liberal in a race,” DeSantis cautioned, adding that “it’s not about any one individual” but “making sure these school boards reflect the values of the community and they’re not a tool of a special interest, partisan agenda.”
He noted that he does “not get involved if there are two candidates running against each other.”
He said that he could get involved overtly or operate “behind the scenes, or whatnot,” as was the case in Leon County.
“It is what it is,” DeSantis said. “You guys can make your judgment on how you want to go on that. It just depends on what the underlying complexion the district that you’re running in is.”
DeSantis said back in August this was a novel strategy for Republicans.
“This is new, particularly for Republicans, because (it) had basically been unions would back candidates and that would be it,” the Governor said in Tallahassee last summer. “Now I think more parents are interested, some of our voters are interested. We have no consequential races really statewide that are competitive, and so you have a situation where this may be one reason why people are motivated.”
In 2021 DeSantis vowed to get his “political apparatus” involved in school board races, a promise which held this year. For 2024, he’s calling his shots two years in advance.
This article first appeared at Florida Politics.