Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is earning praise from citizens and politicians in his state and across the country for his response to Hurricane Idalia, which some strategists told Fox News displayed leadership GOP voters are hungry for.
Hurricane Idalia made landfall as a Category 3 hurricane near Keaton Beach, Florida, on the morning of Aug. 30, creating a seven-foot storm surge that caused massive flooding and devastation across the state’s western coast and left hundreds of thousands without power.
Gov. DeSantis was widely praised in the media for his handling of the storm, and while he has maintained a stance that storms should not be politicized, political strategists who spoke to Fox News Digital said GOP voters will surely take notice of his leadership.
Pollster and political strategist Dustin Olson explained to Fox News Digital that his polling shows two of the top three important qualities his polling shows Republican voters care most about in their nominee are “Strength & Determination” and “Getting Things Done.”
Two Floridians on the ground near where the hurricane made landfall told Fox News Digital that DeSantis displayed those very qualities during interactions they both had with him personally in the aftermath of the storm.
“Zero politicking, zero grandstanding, zero publicity about his appearance,” a longtime resident of hard hit Crystal River, Florida, who wished to remain anonymous, told Fox News Digital about her experience with DeSantis. “I was very impressed with his presence and it not being about him at all.”
The resident said that DeSantis, who took a break from his presidential campaign to tend to Florida residents, was on a “fact finding mission” when he came and visited their town on Sunday in the wake of the devastation.
“He graciously went into some buildings that got flood damage,” the resident said. “He was actually exactly what you want him there to be. And in a position like he’s running for president, he could definitely have gotten on a podium and proclaim. He didn’t. In my opinion, he did exactly what he had to do.”
One of the many people DeSantis met with in Crystal River, Florida, was Crystal River Mayor Joe Meek, who told Fox News Digital that the majority of the homes in his town were flooded with 2-4 feet of water and that he “really appreciated” both the call from DeSantis the morning the hurricane made landfall and the visit days later.
“He spent close to two hours with me, we walked down our historic Main street, which is Citrus Avenue, and visited these small business owners, which are the lifeblood of our economy here in Crystal River and spoke with them, visited their establishments,” Meek said about DeSantis’s visit, adding that the town had all the resources it needed from both the state and federal governments to start the difficult job of recovering.
“We then got in his vehicle and drove throughout the city, stopped at numerous homes that he toured. I spoke with people that unfortunately have been impacted greatly. I will tell you that his visit energized our citizens. They really appreciated it, and it brought a level of the energy to our city that is helping us recover.”
“It energized our folks, and it made them feel that their governor is here for them and watching out for them and we greatly appreciate it,” Meek added. “And I’ll tell you, as far as the assistance from the state, anything that we have asked for is there right now.”
Olson, head of Olson Strategies & Advertising, told Fox News Digital that DeSantis is the “only serious candidate” currently running on both sides that can “actively demonstrate executive leadership in real-time”, adding that “most Democrats don’t even expect that of Joe Biden these days.”
“As the old saying goes, ‘show, don’t tell.’ In our polling, Ron DeSantis is the top Second Choice for Trump voters and anytime DeSantis can show competence doing the job, he further solidifies his position as the ‘break glass in case of emergency’ candidate.”
The governor’s office said it has distributed over 400,000 meals, 300,000 1-liter waters, 10,000 tarps while opening shelters and coordinating responses via several state agencies. Four days after Idalia made landfall, DeSantis said that power had been restored to 93% of residents, and dozens of successful rescues were made during the aftermath.
“DeSantis, state and local officials, first responders, and brave frontline workers prepared the state for this Category 4 hurricane and made sure Floridians were well-informed about the dangers posed by the storm, took appropriate safety precautions, and understood what resources were available to them in impacted areas,” supply chain expert Robert Salvador told Fox News Digital.
“Voters around the country are seeing his leadership in action, and he has even put partisan politics aside, drawing praise from both sides of the aisle on his response along with the rest of the State of Florida,” Salvador, CEO and co-founder of DigiBuild, added.
In a statement to Fox News Digital, DeSantis Campaign Communications Director Andrew Romeo said, “Ron DeSantis’ ability to provide steady leadership during a time of crisis has been on full display during the last week.”