After yesterday's election, Florida primary voters decided that the most extreme candidates of both political parties will face off in November. Ron Desantis is radically pro-Trump, and Andrew Gillum is arguably the most progressive Democratic choice. What effect will this have on the gubernatorial race? Ironically, it will empower moderates.
Florida is a purple state. Both parties, having secured the State's deep blue and deep red regions, will need to sway moderate Floridians in order to ensure political victory. Those moderates have no clear choice in this race. Workers in Florida's sugar industry have seen both DeSantis and Gillum inveigh heavily against the influence of sugar industry lobbyists and their industry's environmental effects. Older moderate voters are equally alienated by radical conservatism and radical progressivism.
This election cycle could be extraordinarily negative. Because neither candidate can plausibly appear moderate, the best strategy for both sides is to convince moderate voters that the opponent is more radical than they are. To this end, election advertisements will likely focus on gaffes and misstatements which cast their opponent in the worst possible light. Progressives will paint DeSantis as a supporter of Trump's "racism" and "sexism." Conservatives will paint Gillum as a "socialist" and a supporter of Trump's impeachment.
Of the two candidates in the race, DeSantis will have the harder time appealing to moderate voters. Floridians liked Trump, to be sure. But that does not mean they will like Trump's deep-red sycophants. In fact, the opposite is likely to be true.
If Republicans want to win this race, they will need to fight smart. DeSantis cannot take aim at the corruption investigation hanging over Andrew Gillum's mayoral administration. That will backfire, given his vocal support of Trump. Instead, Ron's team should begin the campaign to make Andrew Gillum appear as radical as possible. Trump already jump-started this campaign strategy in a tweet this morning describing Gillum as a "failed socialist." The next step will be making sure that every moderate Floridian has seen this video clip of Andrew making open calls for Trump's impeachment.