Is Ron DeSantis Just Scott Walker 2.0?

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at a press conference on January 30, 2023, in Auburndale, Florida. (Photo by Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images.)

Imagine a popular Republican governor from an important state. Despite intense criticism from the national media, he’s notched some huge policy wins that are simultaneously popular with donors, base voters, and conservative intellectuals. His key theme is fighting the Washington establishment and the institutions of progressive power. Then, fresh off of an historic reelection victory, he announces his intent to run for president in a campaign video. 

“In the Republican field, there are some who are good fighters. They haven’t won those battles. There are others who have won elections but haven’t consistently taken on the big fights,” the golden boy of the right says, straight to camera. “I’ve done both.” 

Sound like a suitable ad for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ eventual presidential campaign debut?  

Those were actually words from former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s 2015 announcement video. It may seem like a lifetime ago, but there was a time when Walker was the “fighter” Republicans craved. He won the governorship three times in four years, thanks to a vicious effort to recall him after he successfully orchestrated a huge victory against public sector unions in his state.

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