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DeSantis' grip on Tallahassee may loosen during the upcoming legislative session

Ron DeSantis standing with two people who are applauding him
Phil Sears
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis gives his State of the State address during a joint session of the Senate and House of Representatives Tuesday, March 7, 2023, at the Capitol in Tallahassee.

Gov. Ron DeSantis' slip in the presidential primary polls could play a factor.

The past Florida legislative session was dominated by Gov. Ron DeSantis, who was supported by a compliant Republican supermajority in the legislature.

But as the next session starts Jan. 9, his grip on Tallahassee may be loosening.

Nearly all of DeSantis' initiatives were passed by state lawmakers in the 2023 session. That might change in the upcoming session, said political journalist William March.

He said the governor's skid in most presidential primary polls could hasten his status as a lame duck governor, and eat into his sway over Tallahassee.

“Now that his candidacy does not appear to be going was well as expected, the question is whether that will affect his standing with the other legislators,” March said.

Just a few days after the sessions begin, the Iowa caucuses will be held, and DeSantis is expected to spend much of his time there and in other early primary states.

March said that could be a factor, as well as the governor's absence from Florida for extended periods.

“He's likely to be out of the state for much of the session campaigning,” March said. “If he comes back to Florida as a loser, then it could easily affect the legislators’ deference to his agenda.”

The session will last for 60 days, through the beginning of March.

Steve Newborn is a WUSF reporter and producer at WUSF covering environmental issues and politics in the Tampa Bay area.
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