Over the last two years, Gov. Ron DeSantis has touted how free Florida is from COVID regulations compared to other states.
The National Chamber of Commerce, the National Manufacturers Association and many large companies have sung the praises of the regulatory climate Florida has experienced under DeSantis.
In 2019, Miami was dubbed the “Wall Street of the south” because of the deregulation policies Florida was pursuing under DeSantis and under then Gov. Rick Scott during his eight years in Tallahassee.
But Democrats are now countering that by claiming Florida isn’t free under the DeSantis administration.
“This governor has gone away from free markets, attacking businesses for trying to make decisions on what they believe is right,” said Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried who is running for the Democratic nomination to challenge DeSantis in November.
On a recent interview with WLRN Public Radio Fried compared the DeSantis administration’s business policies to Hitler’s agenda.
Other Democrats echo Fried’s comments. State Sen. Annette Taddeo, D-Miami, who is also running for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, said she doesn’t believe Florida is a free state.
“If we are the most free state in the country, why can’t our local school boards be free to decide what is best for our local schools? Why can’t small businesses be free to decide what is best? What is the best way to protect their employees and customers?” asked Taddeo.
It didn’t stop there.
Former U.S. Rep. David Jolly, R-Fla., told MSNBC that DeSantis is more dangerous than former President Donald Trump. Jolly went on to list areas from voting rights to education where Florida “wasn’t free” under a DeSantis administration.
But supporters of DeSantis went on the offensive to highlight the success of the governors’ policies.
“When I hear the Democrats talk about how awful DeSantis policies are, I ask myself, do these people know what state they are living in?” asked Dr. Ed Moore who was the executive director of the RESET Task Force that helped implement policies that brought Florida back after the pandemic.
Moore said arguments from the left stating that DeSantis policies haven’t made Florida free have any merit.
“We have more school choice than ever before; we have continued to put in policies that have deregulated parts of the government to make Florida more attractive for business and for those that want to move into the state,” Moore said. “Florida was on the front-line to stop the president’s business vaccine mandate that would have caused people to leave the workforce and put more regulations on them, and it shows in the polls what voters think of this governor.”
Others agree with Moore.
Business analyst and financial commentator Steve Beaman said when the gubernatorial race heats up, voters in Florida will be reminded that is was Democrats like Fried who complained that DeSantis didn’t shut down the economy quickly enough to deal with the pandemic and then said he opened it up back to quickly.
“The reopening of Florida’s economy has made DeSantis the envy of governors throughout the country,” Beaman said. “If you don’t believe me, then go look at the stories of business and people moving to the Sunshine State.”
Beaman pointed to a report by United Van Lines that showed people leaving other states in part due to COVID regulations and moving to states like Florida. United ranked Florida fifth among states people are moving to.
The governor’s supporters say if Democrats want to tell voters in 2022 that Florida isn’t free compared to other states, it will be a losing proposition.
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