Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s (R) leadership throughout the pandemic has brought “pro-freedom conservatives” to the Sunshine State in droves as they flee “tyrannical blue states” in search of freedom, Florida Republican Party vice chairman Christian Ziegler said during an interview on Breitbart News Saturday.
Registered Republican voters surpassed Democrats for the first time in Florida’s history as of October 31, a shift Ziegler said is largely because voters are leaving Democrat-run cities and states. He also noted that many more moderate Florida Democrats feel as though their party has “left them behind.”
From 2008 to the end of Obama’s presidency in 2016, Democrats went from nearly 700,000 more voters than Republicans to a little over 300,000, election data shows. By 2020, Democrats held slightly less than a 100,000-voter lead. Republicans are now roughly 4,000 votes ahead of Democrats — 5,118,357 to 5,114,039, according to data from the Florida Division of Elections.
Ziegler told host Matthew Boyle, Breitbart News’s Washington bureau chief, that the secret to the Florida GOP’s success was leaning into the “Trump/DeSantis wing of the party” and investing “a record amount of money” toward voter registration with the help of the governor.
“We’re excited in Florida, and a lot of that has to do with obviously Donald Trump coming in, people seeing that and starting to switch parties. He brought in a lot of southern Democrats, a lot of moderates, independents over to the Republican Party. And Ron DeSantis keeping businesses and schools open has really accelerated that,” Ziegler said. “His record plus his resources have now really paid off, and now we are a Republican state officially.”
When talking to homebuilders on the ground in South Florida, Ziegler said they mostly report that most people moving to Florida are from California, New York, and Illinois — “deep blue states.”
“You know, the initial worry, which I agree with people, is I do not want people coming from California and New York and Illinois with their voting records, with their voting history and preferences. I do not want blue voters coming to Florida and shaping our state,” Ziegler said. “But, when you take a step back and you really dive into the numbers and you dive into the feedback from the people moving here, what we’re seeing is people are fleeing these tyrannical blue states that have overextended government. They’re shutting down businesses, they’re shutting down schools, and they’re looking around the country and trying to figure out where to relocate.”
Ziegler specifically credited DeSantis’s leadership with bringing in new Florida residents, touting his pandemic policy of following the science, keeping businesses and schools open, and fighting against mask and vaccine mandates.
“So I think that we’re getting the movers, and the movers coming here are actually pro-freedom conservatives that were locked down in blue states, and now they are fleeing to Florida to be free,” he said.
DeSantis, who has championed involvement in local school board elections, is specifically drawing “20,30, 40-year-old females, moms, dads, that have never been involved in politics,” Ziegler said.
Gov. Ron DeSantis arrives to speak during a press conference at the Shul of Bal Harbour on June 14, 2021, in Surfside, Florida. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
“But now they’re waking up and seeing what the school boards are doing locally to their kids. They’re getting frustrated, and they’re realizing that the Republican Party is standing with them in support of freedom,” he continued.
Keeping up that enthusiasm on the ground will be key to driving up further support for the party going into the 2022 midterm elections, in addition to continuing to prioritize voter registration, which Ziegler called “one of their greatest tools.” While Democrats are already rumored to view DeSantis as “unbeatable,” Ziegler said the Florida GOP is planning on giving his campaign “150 percent.” He noted that a Democrat like Commissioner of Agriculture Nikki Fried or party flipper and former Gov. Charlie Crist would “change our state for the worst” overnight.
“Look, Ron DeSantis in my mind — we’re going to make the assumption that he’s ten points down. We’re going to work our tails off and make sure he gets elected. We’ll let the Democrat Party put money in here and decide if they want to waste it. The good thing is, if they waste it in Florida, they don’t have that money in other states that they might actually have a chance in,” he said. “I can guarantee you, there are going to be a lot of liberal dollars that come from liberal blue states from people that may not have ever been to Florida, and they’re going to try to beat Ron DeSantis because they look at him as a potential 2024 candidate or 2028, no matter how that shapes up. As a guy that could be president in the future, they are going to try to take him out early.”
Breitbart News Saturday airs on SiriusXM Patriot 125 from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Eastern.