Express Lane — “What did the Governor say and when did he say it?” — Lee County is the belt on Republicans’ Florida buckle, so why so indifferent to it? and Corey Simon is just another nasty GOPer

What did Governor Ron DeSantis say and when did he say it, to which local officials? This is a key question now.

Considering unlike his predecessors, Gov. DeSantis suspends, local, elected officials for minor infractions, or just for crossing him. Politically, you can understand why local authorities were hesitant to issue evacuation orders. If I were a local elected official and wanted to keep my job, I would not have taken on the “risk” of preempting “Dear Leader” DeSantis. We saw with COVID how any local government that tried to make its own policy got harassed in the courts and with legal letters from the state.

While Jeb Bush and Rick Scott were into a certain degree of preemption and mandating conformity, neither would have gone to nearly the lengths DeSantis has to keep local government in line and singing from his songsheet of greatest autocratic hits including “Cult of personality.”

Lee County is the most populated county in the state that regularly votes GOP. Without Lee, Ron DeSantis likely would not be Governor. So it’s quite bizarre that DeSantis was apparently indifferent to the plight of the Lee Island Coast, which by the way is a massive economic driver in terms of tourism for the state. Here is a theory I have heard over and over the last three days. The infamous Christina Pushaw “St. George’s Island” tweet which Peter Schorsch rightly took to task may be more than her just shooting off her mouth. It’s becoming more common to theorize that the DeSantis team WANTED the storm to hit areas that are less populated like the Big Bend region because that would create a far less messy situation after the storm then Ian hitting the Tampa Bay area or Southwest Florida. The path of least resistance is always the preferable path for those not concerned about the task of non-performative governance.

GOP Florida Senate candidate Corey Simon had until recently been running a “good guy” campaign, drenched in Garnet & Gold from his college days at Florida State and largely focused on his football career and community volunteerism. But his hardcore Republican fangs are now showing publicly in this critical Democratic-leaning North Florida legislative race.

Today at Capital City Tiger Bay’s Senate District 3 candidates forum — the only debate Simon has agreed to, after attacking the Tallahassee Democrat and the League of Women Voters in a bizarre full-page screed in the newspaper this weekend — Simon continued avoiding all questions of substance.

Most tellingly, when asked by Senator Ausley whether he had confidence in the 2020 Presidential election Simon dodged, saying, “The elections are over. Biden is the President, and we are all the worse for that.”

When nudged by a follow-up from moderator Gary Fineout, Simon repeated the same craven non-response, forever casting paranoid doubt on the legitimacy of American elections on the record.

Simon also evaded all questions about any legislation passed by the Republican Party of Florida machine that’s actively supporting him to the tune of millions of dollars, seemingly either unaware of or unwilling to take account for any public policy position he would be asked to co-sign in the Legislature under Gov. DeSantis’ right-wing allies in state leadership.

It has become clear as he emerges as a full on MAGA-style 2020 election denialist, Corey Simon is no moderate and is badly out of step with mainstream Tallahassee and Big Bend voters.

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