Will Florida’s coronavirus game drag Ron DeSantis and the Republican Party?

MIAMI – Gov. Ron DeSantis and President Donald Trump have wounded their political destinies together in Florida, a state that amounts to a mandatory victory if the president hopes to serve another term in the White House.

But as the nation rushes into a contentious general election contest, Florida has become a national hot spot for the resurgent coronavirus pandemic. This even as the president is prepared to try to use the state as a show of strength for his Republican National Convention nomination acceptance speech now relocated in August, a plan that is already causing anxiety among some locals.

And COVID-19’s rapid rise in the Sunshine State has been made precarious by DeSantis’ position in Florida, raising the possibility that a reopening that some residents and experts say hastened could spell trouble for the president in November.

“If you look around the country, most governors, regardless of party, saw their numbers increase,” during the first part of the pandemic, said Jeff Garcia, a Miami-based Democratic political consultant. He noted a decrease for DeSantis from 58 percent to 51 percent in a survey analysis conducted in April by FiveThirtyEight:long before the recent increase in cases. Meanwhile, the governors of 14 other pandemic-affected states, such as Michigan, Washington and New York, had experienced double-digit positive gains.

“DeSantis is in a rare category,” added Garcia. “He doesn’t overwhelmingly dislike him, but he has seen a precipitous drop in his approval rating.”