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DeSantis' sweeping victory in Florida sets up a potential rivalry with Trump

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, his wife Casey DeSantis and their children walk on stage to celebrate victory over Democratic gubernatorial candidate Rep. Charlie Crist during an election night watch party at the Tampa Convention Center on Tuesday in Tampa, Florida.
Octavio Jones
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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, his wife Casey DeSantis and their children walk on stage to celebrate victory over Democratic gubernatorial candidate Rep. Charlie Crist during an election night watch party at the Tampa Convention Center on Tuesday in Tampa, Florida.

Updated November 9, 2022 at 11:12 AM ET

Follow live updates and election results here.

MIAMI — Florida voters have given Republican Ron DeSantis a second term as the state's governor. DeSantis overcame a challenge from Charlie Crist, a former Democratic congressman who, as a Republican, served as Florida governor more than a decade ago.

DeSantis won with nearly a 20-point margin. And he did it by carrying Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties, longtime Democratic strongholds. At his victory party in Tampa, he called it "a win for the ages." DeSantis told the crowd, "We not only won election, we have rewritten the political map."

The victory gives DeSantis a second term and a national platform as he eyes a potential run for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination. He was first elected governor after receiving an endorsement from then-President Donald Trump.

The resounding win enhances DeSantis' profile among Republicans and sets up a potential rivalry with Trump. Trump has already signaled he's ready with attacks, calling DeSantis "DeSanctimonious" at a recent rally.

On Tuesday, Trump told reporters DeSantis shouldn't consider entering the presidential race. If he does, Trump said, "I would tell you things about him that won't be very flattering — I know more about him than anybody — other than, perhaps, his wife."

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In his first term, DeSantis courted Trump supporters with incendiary attacks on the Biden administration. DeSantis opposed the president's COVID policies and made White House medical adviser Anthony Fauci a prime target for criticism. DeSantis opposed policies requiring COVID vaccinations and facemasks.

He also signed into law measures that restrict how public schools teach students about race, sexual orientation and gender identity. Those measures have put him at odds with local school districts and with federal education policy. They also raised his profile as a potential presidential candidate, making him a frequent guest on Fox News.

DeSantis has been a vocal critic of the Biden administration on immigration, accusing it of not doing enough to stem the flow of migrants over the southern border. In September, his administration organized flights that delivered nearly 50 migrants to Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts. Democrats and immigrant rights groups decried the flights as political stunts that used people as pawns. But the move won acclaim among conservative Republicans.

In the weeks leading up to the race, DeSantis dropped the political attacks as Hurricane Ian devastated Southwest Florida. That put him at the top of the news throughout the state for weeks as he directed the response and aid for struggling communities.

DeSantis' win is another sign that Florida, long considered a swing state, now is firmly under Republican control. It's been 28 years since a Democrat has been elected governor in Florida.

More election 2022 coverage:

  • Florida election results
  • WUSF's Florida Voter Guide
  • Live election updates from WLRN
  • Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

    As NPR's Miami correspondent, Greg Allen reports on the diverse issues and developments tied to the Southeast. He covers everything from breaking news to economic and political stories to arts and environmental stories. He moved into this role in 2006, after four years as NPR's Midwest correspondent.