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DeSantis Touts Republican Florida House Victories, Progressives Call For 'Different Direction' After Losses

Man in blue suit and red tie standing in front of a crowd of people
Evan Vucci/AP
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis listens as President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at Miami-Opa-locka Executive Airport, Monday, Nov. 2, 2020, in Opa-locka, Fla. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Republicans in Florida are lauding victories in the Florida House as a sign of the party’s success on election night Tuesday.

Governor Ron DeSantis told media Wednesday afternoon that the wins came despite big donations from Democratic political action committees. He also credited incoming state House leadership.

“The result was that the House Republicans gained five seats,” the governor said. “So, (Democrats) didn’t draw any blood; they lit a lot of money on fire. And I think that’s a testament to Speaker Designate (Chris) Sprowls and a lot of great candidates who were running for office.”

Sprowls, from his Twitter account, reciprocated credit to the governor for helping Republican House victories along, calling the winners “dragonslayers” … “who took down Democrat incumbents and picked up Democrat seats.”

Sprowls was referring to Linda Chaney in HD69 representing Pinellas County; Dana Trabulsky in HD84 representing St. Lucie County; Tom Fabricio in South Florida’s HD103; Fiona McFarland in HD72 representing Venice and Englewood; and Demi Busatta Cabrera in HD114 which includes parts of Miami-Dade.

Election night defeats weren’t lost on progressive members of the Florida House. Representative Anna Eskamani of Orlando tweeted “We need a whole different direction” for the Florida Democratic Party after she says “too many incredible down ballot” candidates lost.

Democratic state senator-elect Shevrin Jones of West Park also sounded off on twitter, writing: “We can’t keep going this route, and there’s a group of people who the (Florida Dems) have sat outside of the sandbox, and that can’t happen anymore. I’m not keeping quiet on this one.”

DeSantis, during his noon press conference, also praised Florida for the way the state ran its election. His comments came as the presidential election remained undecided, with some battleground states continue to count votes.

DeSantis says state elections supervisors ran an election process that “inspires confidence.”

“I think the contrast between how a tough battleground state like Florida handled the election, versus what we’re seeing in some of these other states – I think it’s dramatic,” DeSantis told press.

President Donald Trump won Florida with more than 51 percent of the vote, defying polls that had Democratic challenger Joe Biden ahead in the state in the run up to election night.

DeSantis also used his media event to take issue with Fox News calling the state of Arizona for Biden, before the network called Florida for Trump.

“So, for Fox to be so resistant to calling Florida, and yet jumping the gun on Arizona, I just thought was inexplicable,” DeSantis said, telegraphing his annoyance at the network where he’s been a frequent primetime guest.

As of Wednesday afternoon, DeSantis was still holding out hope that more Arizona votes would come in for Trump. The state has already been called for Biden by the Associated Press.

Trump already has called for a recount in Wisconsin, which state election officials called for Joe Biden early Wednesday morning.

DeSantis said Florida delivering an election night decision means, "perhaps 2020 is the year we finally vanquished the ghost of Bush v. Gore."

Without taking questions after his remarks, DeSantis said he will be speaking further on the election as the results shape up.

Ryan Dailey is a reporter/producer for WFSU/Florida Public Radio. After graduating from Florida State University, Ryan went into print journalism working for the Tallahassee Democrat for five years. At the Democrat, he worked as a copy editor, general assignment and K-12 education reporter.