by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Hurricane Ian pummeled Florida last week as a category 4 storm, one of the most powerful to ever make landfall in the United States. And not more than a week later — right on schedule — the state’s Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis remains confronted with a hostile press that’s eager to turn the governor’s political ambitions into Fort Myers Beach: once a sunny paradise and now a tropical wasteland.
As traumatized residents survey the damage and prepare to rebuild from what the governor described as a “500-year flood event,” swaths of the state remain underwater and without power. According to Fox Weather, more than 600,000 Floridians are still without electricity after the storm ripped across the peninsula.
“You’re looking at a storm that changed the character of our state,” DeSantis said at a Thursday press conference.
So naturally, DeSantis, who is rivaling Donald Trump in every poll for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, is a prime target for media partisans who are exploiting the tragedy and going on the attack.
In 2005, President George W. Bush became the subject of criticism over the federal government’s response to Hurricane Katrina, a category 3 storm that killed more than 1,800 people, left millions more homeless, and flooded New Orleans for weeks. Four days after landfall, rapper Kanye West castigated the president as a racist in an interview alongside actor Mike Myers on NBC. …
… Florida faced its most destructive storm in decades under DeSantis’s tenure one month before the governor’s re-election is set to be a springboard for a competitive presidential campaign.
On Monday, DeSantis’s opponents in the press launched efforts to make Hurricane Ian the governor’s Hurricane Katrina, thwarting momentum for a White House run and potentially derailing a second term as Florida’s chief executive.