Express Lane: George LeMieux is still a thing and striking thing about DeSantis newly-released endorsements. Debate fallout, Demings lack of a ground game and Al Lawson’s legend continues to grow

Ron DeSantis was endorsed today by Charlie Crist‘s former Chief of Staff, and the man he appointed to the US Senate, George LeMieux. Endorsements generally don’t move votes particularly the endorsement of someone, who despite multiple tries could never get elected to office himself, even to the State House!

Others signing LeMieux’s “former Crist associates for DeSantis letter” were Jeff Atwater, Ken Pruitt, and Jim Kallinger, among others. Impressive names no doubt, but even more impressive is the number of GOP former State Senators who served with Crist, or later with Pruitt and Atwater that did not sign this letter.

Endorsements don’t really matter, but it’s striking how many of Crist’s former GOP colleagues appear uncomfortable with the Republican Party of Ron DeSantis and are thus, sitting the election out between the party-switching Crist, and the heir-apparent to lead the national GOP in DeSantis. We can only speculate on what many of them think about today’s GOP, which most certainly does not resemble the Republican Party of Florida in the 1990’s (but does reflect what was already happening nationally to the GOP thanks to Newt Gingrich – it’s just that Florida GOPers tended to be more traditionally conservative until Trump and DeSantis arrived on the scene).

The fallout from the debate last night yielded a quick $200,000 in cash for Charlie Crist, more calls for debates, and more earned media for Crist than anything else in the last two months including the Martha’s Vineyard flights and Hurricane Ian. As for DeSantis, he’s trying to quickly pivot and move on. The less said about yesterday, the better in DeSantis world.

Despite the opportunity Democratic US Senate nominee Val Demings has to still win her race against Senator Marco Rubio, more angst has been heard among high-level Democratic insiders in recent days about her campaign than any time this cycle. Demings campaign has effectively run independently of the coordinated campaign and insiders feel the media-driven effort has shortchanged the ground game and traditional GOTV-styled operations.

Congressman Al Lawson’s decision to challenge Congressman Neil Dunn in the newly redrawn CD-2 is helping to stimulate Democratic enthusiasm and turnout in places the party has long ignored in the Big Bend region and western Panhandle. Lawson is likely to lose, but over-perform handsomely, and this could benefit other Democrats running the area like ailing Senator Loranne Ausley who need any bump in outlying counties they can possible get. Even if he loses, the political legend of Al Lawson will continue, as his decades-long, vote-getting prowess in areas other Democrats struggle continues to impress.

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