TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) – Just a month before Florida chooses a new governor, Ron DeSantis is hoping to rebound from his campaign’s lackluster start by bringing in the woman who helped President Donald Trump carry the state two years ago.
The Republican candidate’s campaign events are transforming from subdued to lively, fundraising is picking up and the attack on Democratic opponent Andrew Gillum is becoming more focused. That’s just in the week he brought in Susie Wiles to reboot the campaign.
“It’s not too late,” said Brian Burgess, who was communications director on Republican Gov. Rick Scott’s 2010 campaign, working with Wiles to help him squeak out a razor thin victory despite being down in the polls a month before the election.
DeSantis stumbled out of the gate after winning the Aug. 28 primary largely on Trump’s endorsement. The next day he warned Florida voters not to”monkey this up by supporting Tallahassee mayor Gillum, who is hoping to become Florida’s first black governor. Democrats criticized the remark as racist and DeSantis spent his first week on defense.
Gillum’s momentum was immediately clear: In the first three days after the primary his political committee hauled in $2.3 million, compared with less than $250,000 raised by DeSantis’ committee in the same period.
While Gillum was drawing large crowds of energetic supporters, DeSantis’ crowds were sparse and lacked similar enthusiasm. Republican strategist and commentator Ana Navarro tweeted a photo of a lively Gillum rally, saying the contrast between DeSantis and Gillum events were like a”hand-me-down scooter versus a little red corvette.”