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Watch: Ron DeSantis' Superb First General Election Ad in Florida Re-Election Bid

About a month ago, we posted what amounted to Gov. Ron DeSantis' first general election campaign ad down in Florida. It was a positive spot, featuring "thank you" notes DeSantis has received from various constituents – but it was technically not a general election commercial because the state's primaries had still not occurred. Those primaries are now over. The incumbent was re-nominated without challenge, while Democrats have selected this person as their standard-bearer. The November match-up is now set. 

Rather than coming out of the gates with a blistering takedown of soulless Charlie Crist and his radical running mate, the DeSantis campaign is instead going positive, again, in what is officially their opening ad of the general election season: 


This clip rocketed around social media, generating millions of views in very short order. It won rave reviews among many conservatives, for good reason. It's an excellent ad. DeSantis wants to run on his record, and nothing is more central to his record – and to his identity as a leader, really – than his navigation of the COVID-19 pandemic. That issue is not old news. It's highly relevant, and DeSantis is smart to do everything he can to make it the choice in his election, as it also plays into so many other sub-issues, from schools to the economy, to individual freedoms. Crucially, it highlights a major contrast between DeSantis' COVID decisions and the approach adopted by most Democratic politicians around the country – the devastating consequences of which are still being quantified and revealed. For his part, Crist has quite usefully selected a ticket-mate (a keep-schools-closed union boss) who only helps showcase that choice even more starkly. Team DeSantis might consider sending Crist flowers for this move.

DeSantis is known as a hard-charging conservative who doesn't back down and who's attracted the attention and support of much of the GOP base across the country. That reputation is generally well-earned, but he's also the guy who built stratospheric approval ratings in Florida before the pandemic turned him into a lightning rod. The new spot offers nods to that version of DeSantis, too – from his bonuses to law enforcement, to pay raises for teachers, to a reference to his environmental policies. This is a man who wants to consolidate his base, yes, but also win as big a victory as he can in November. He's making a strong case with a relatively light touch. There will be plenty of opportunities to prosecute an aggressive political case against Crist and the Democrats, with an abundance of material to work with. This was the smart play at the outset, though, as it sets the tone for the important final stretch of the campaign. There's little doubt in my mind that he'll win a second term. The margin, however, will be scrutinized, for a number of reasons. And a win in this ballpark (measured by a pollster with which I'm unfamiliar, but showing a spread that's similar to other recent numbers we've seen) would be very impressive indeed: 


Other recent polling has shown the race more competitive, but with the governor still ahead. Parting thought: If the DeSantis campaign's internal numbers confirm a very solid and reliable lead, is there any chance the governor directs his political apparatus to start sharing some of the historically massive war chest he's amassed to help boost other Republicans in key races around the country? GOP fundraising has been an issue this cycle, with Democrats crushing Republicans in quite a few big contents. DeSantis obviously wants to run up the score in his own state and notch a "statement" win. But could he also show himself to be a team-oriented, victory-minded leader by deploying his time (he's already doing some of this) and fundraising prowess to help the party across the board? Speaking of contrasts, there's one to be made here, too: 


Trump and the many tentacles of Trumpworld have been sucking up attention and money for the last few years. Team Trump has spent practically none of that fortune on actually getting Republicans elected, including the Republicans Trump has championed and endorsed, sometimes over the wishes of other elements of the GOP establishment. Many of these campaigns are strapped for cash and need help. The clock is ticking. 

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