As a 2024 candidate who used the first half of his second term as governor of Florida to pass far-right messaging bills that would ultimately boost his 2024 bid, Ron DeSantis likes the chaos he’s seeing in Congress right now. And he wants to hijack the far-right House Republicans’ hijacking for his own purposes.
A Freedom Caucus founding member, DeSantis reportedly spoke with three current members of the caucus who are threatening a government shutdown on Wednesday. The call lasted about 30 minutes and he told Reps. Chip Roy (R-TX), Thomas Massie (R-KY) and Bob Good (R-VA) by phone, “I got your back. Keep fighting,” Politico reported.
DeSantis reportedly sees a campaign trail advantage in aligning himself with the far-right House Republicans’ charade as they buck party leadership and risk a shutdown, betting that voters back home will be moved by their “anti-woke” headlines and “spending cuts!” sound bites at the polls in 2024. It’s a strategy not dissimilar to DeSantis’ own pre-presidential announcement strategy when he got his Republican-dominated state legislature to pass a bunch of dangerous anti-woke/anti-LGBTQ bills into law in hopes of appealing to the furthest-right members of Donald Trump’s base.
DeSantis has been building toward this kind of messaging shift for a bit. In recent weeks he’s railed against the “D.C. establishment” and criticized both Democrats and Republicans for overspending. The alignment with those making House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s (R-CA) life hell is just the latest move in the direction of austerity virtue-signaling.
The side-picking could also be rooted in a desire to counter Trump, a longtime ally of McCarthy’s. As Freedom Caucus members like Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) threaten to oust the speaker if he works with Democrats to avoid a financial crisis — again — Trump has mostly stayed out of the spending fight “my Kevin” is navigating. He’s far more fixated on the political points he may score from a President Biden impeachment.
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