Florida Republicans top Democrats in new voter registration numbers as swing state faces close race

It’s been a rough week for progressives in Florida. First, one of the most promising possible Democratic candidates for governor, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, was suspended from his post — after polls suggested his…

Florida Republicans top Democrats in new voter registration numbers as swing state faces close race

It’s been a rough week for progressives in Florida. First, one of the most promising possible Democratic candidates for governor, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, was suspended from his post — after polls suggested his opponent in the race, conservative challenger Ron DeSantis, had the stronger chance of beating Gov. Rick Scott in the November election.

And now, new voter registration numbers in the Sunshine State offer even more evidence that the GOP wave seen across the country is spilling over into Florida’s gubernatorial race.

In the final weeks before the August 24 primary election, the Republican Party of Florida confirmed to the Associated Press that their recorded voter registration efforts outpaced those of Democrats for the first time in two decades.

On August 1, the state passed a highly contentious constitutional amendment mandating a recount on election results if the margins of victory or losses between two candidates in the state falls below 0.5 percent. If approved, the amendment will likely swing votes to Mr. DeSantis.

According to the Miami Herald, which cited Florida Board of Elections records obtained under the state’s sunshine law, Florida passed 68,000 new Republican registrations in the last three weeks of the campaign, while the state’s Democratic Party registered 67,000 new voters.

Despite the enthusiasm gap, Mr. Gillum is still at 50 percent, with Mr. DeSantis at 41 percent, according to the latest CBS News/YouGov poll.

Another sign of this trend can be seen in the midterm elections scheduled for next year: Florida registered more Republican voters than Democrats for the first time in more than two decades, with nearly 5.3 million ballots cast for Republicans, compared to 4.8 million for Democrats.

Andrew Gillum’s campaign attempted to turn the trend against Mr. DeSantis, saying he is “a tool” of President Donald Trump who represents a repeat of the state’s economic failures under the former governor, Rick Scott. (State elections records show that Mr. Scott’s Republican signature drove down registered Democrats while the state’s Republican signature drove up registered Republicans. In turn, registered voters of both parties rose under Gov. Scott’s term, an Associated Press review found.)

In an email to supporters, the Gillum campaign cited a report from the nonprofit Center for Economic Progress that showed that when Mr. Scott took office, the state ranked 47th in per capita median household income. Then, as governor, Mr. Scott stopped offering tuition assistance for the state’s college students. By contrast, when Mr. Trump took office, Florida ranked 14th in median household income, according to the study, which is based on the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.

Mr. DeSantis, a former Fox News reporter and congressman, pledged to become the first Republican governor in Florida since 1999 to bring back the state’s struggling manufacturing industry. While speaking to supporters at a victory party in Tallahassee, Mr. DeSantis said the manufacturing sector had been “wrecked” by the Obama administration and that he was sworn into office for that “sentiment.” He promised to bring back the Bush tax cuts and a tax deduction for business owners. He said he would work to make the state’s economy “more vibrant.”

“I’m not a one-issue candidate,” Mr. DeSantis said. “I think there are other issues around Florida that we need to address, but at the heart of it I am a conservative.”

During the primary campaign, Mr. DeSantis frequently said that he is “just an ordinary guy.”

“I don’t buy tome after tome of what I believe in,” he said. “I think I’m an ordinary guy and I’m going to continue to be an ordinary guy.”

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