John Stemberger, a Florida native who leads Florida Family Policy Council, was quizzed about Florida’s governor in an interview on American Family Radio where he called DeSantis a “strategic warrior” in politics.
"I have not seen anything quite like it,” Stemberger told the “Today’s Issues” show. “Trump comes close but he is on another level.”
Stemberger credited DeSantis for following “real science” during the COVID-19 pandemic, when many state governors forced businesses to close, forced people to stay home, and ordered churches to close their doors.
In a state reliant on tourism and booked condos, the reaction to the pandemic crushed Florida's economy. Unemployment in Florida shot from 2.7% to 13.9% by May of 2020. At the time, the state's governor was accused of putting profits ahead of public health when he opened up the state, and Democrats now call him "DeathSantis" for his actions.
“[DeSantis] understood that the Constitution does not get put on suspension,” Stemberger said, “just because you have what people are calling a pandemic.”
DeSantis, 44, won re-election last November in a 59%-40% trouncing of his Democrat opponent, Charlie Crist. Even though the outcome was expected, the election numbers stunned Democrats since the Republican showed huge gains among traditional Democrat voters, such as blacks and women.
“He blew out Miami-Dade County,” Stemberger said of that Democrat stronghold, where DeSantis beat Crist 55%-44%.
Timothy Head, who leads the Georgia-based Faith and Freedom Coalition, tells AFN that group is impressed DeSantis is wading into controversial cultural issues such as fighting left-wing propaganda in K-12 education and at the university level, too.
To take on the powerful and influential Disney corporation in his own state of Florida, Head says, shows DeSantis is not afraid of a political fight.
Besides being a powerful corporation, Disney is Florida’s largest employer, too, but its liberal executives picked a fight with Gov. DeSantis when they criticized the Parents Rights in Education bill. This week, Governor DeSantis signed legislation that ended Disney’s self-governing status and special privileges.
At the bill signing, DeSantis told the gathered crowd to check their watches to remember “what time the corporate kingdom came to an end.”
“He’s actually building a bit of a résumé,” Head observes, “of not just sort of rhetoric but real results.”
Ira Mehlman is a FAIR spokesman who regularly talks to AFN about immigration issues. He says the watchdog group is watching Gov. DeSantis address illegal immigration in the state. He recently signed legislation to strengthen the E-Verify system in Florida, which makes it harder for illegals to get hired, so they don't cross into The Sunshine State to find jobs.
"It will be somebody else's problem," Mehlman says, "but at least it won't be his, and the people of Florida's, problem."
The E-Verify legislation comes after the Governor transported illegal aliens to Democrat-run "sanctuary" states to make a political point.
A prediction of a presidential run
Back in in the radio interview, Stemberger said he was impressed when Gov. DeSantis pushed back after the Florida Department of Education dropped a controversial AP African-American Studies course because it was sprinkled with left-wing propaganda.
Calling a Republican governor a history-denying racist is low-hanging fruit for Democrats and the dishonest media but DeSantis challenged them to defend “queer theory” in a black history course.
“That is somebody pushing an agenda on our kids,” DeSantis told reporters at a January press conference.
The Governor’s media team, which is now accustomed to media smears and half-truths, forced an NBC News correspondent to backtrack after suggesting DeSantis is opposed to teaching slavery.
“It’s actually required in the statute to teach specific heroes of black history,” Stemberger pointed out. “They go through and teach the history of slavery, how we were emancipated from slavery. All of that is required in the curriculum.”
But the lie created another left-wing narrative, like the “Don’t Say Gay” bill and referring to the Florida’s governor as “Deathsantis” for opening up the state during the pandemic.
As far as DeSantis running for the White House, Stemberger predicts he is running and says it will likely happen after the legislature wraps up its business.
The last day of the regular session is May 5.
Editor's Note: This story has been updated with comments from Ira Mehlman.