Republicans: Don't Be Like Matt Bevin, Be Like Ron DeSantis

A Warning Sign From The Bluegrass State

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Republican Governor Matt Bevin appears to have lost his race for re-election in a state that Donald Trump won by nearly 30 points.

Bevin’s loss came as every single other Republican on the ballot for state-wide office won their seats handily. As I said on the show this morning, people who would have otherwise voted straight ticket took time out of their day just to stick it to this man.

Clearly something has gone very wrong here, but what exactly? Bevin is a uniquely unpopular figure in the Bluegrass state where he entered office in 2015 as a brash businessman who it appeared would fight for the interests of forgotten Kentuckians.

He then of course governed as a classic libertarian chamber of commerce type Republican by trying to institute Medicaid work requirements, slashing pensions, and insulting teachers when struck as a result. He even sued his own constituents in order to fight for medicaid work requirements and threatened to fully pull the state out of the Affordable Care Act.

Don’t forget this particular gem when the governor blamed striking teachers for the shooting of a 7 year old girl or when he suggested that more kids would be sexually assaulted as a result of the strike. “Children were harmed — some physically, some sexually, some were introduced to drugs for the first time — because they were vulnerable and left alone,” he said in 2018.

In short, he was a real dick to the working class people who needed him the most in a state that shed thousands of coal mining jobs and was ravaged by an opioid crisis. The very same people who put Donald Trump in the Oval Office of the United States.

Bevin’s governance as a typical slash and burn corporatist governor in a solidly white working class state is instructive. Trump voters either stayed at home en masse or specifically took the opportunity to stiff him at the ballot box because he betrayed them and the Trump agenda. Simply putting on a MAGA hat and yelling Drain the Swamp isn’t enough, you actually have to walk the walk.

Just listen to Bevin in this cringeworthy clip deriding Bernie Sanders impending visit to the state. He talks about how Sanders vilifies “job creators” which might as well be a crappy version of a Romney 2012 ad.

MEANWHILE there is a Republican governor who holds a 72% approval rating….in Florida. Yes, the same Florida that only voted for Trump by a 1% margin and who barely elected Ron DeSantis with a razor thin margin.

How exactly did DeSantis accomplish this remarkable feat? Well in stark contrast to Bevin, he has declared 2020 “The Year of the Teacher” in Florida with attempts to raise minimum salaries to the second highest in the nation. He’s paired this proposal with mandatory E-Verify for businesses which would make it much harder for them to hire illegal immigrants.

At the same time he’s been heterodox on climate change, called for more funding to save the Florida Everglades, and by all local accounts has forged a very strong record of actually getting things done in the legislature with a bipartisan agenda.

He’s also not a squish. He has moved to allow teachers to carry guns in classrooms, he’s college’s to host controversial speakers, and has maintained a very conservative record on immigration. In short, he’s done more than most Republicans have across the United States.

DeSantis’s pairing of raising teacher salaries with mandatory e-verify is politically brilliant. In both cases he is trying to increase wages for the working class. That’s what its all about folks…

My friend Reihan Salam wrote in January 2019: “Ron DeSantis Is Showing the GOP a Different Path Forward.” Maybe they should check out the results and take the same one.