A few hours ago I got to watch something the DeSantis Campaign HQ described as a "media open house" though it was really more of a kick-off for the campaign to introduce new volunteers to the folks running the show over there.
There were snacks and beverages and campaign swag for everyone.
And if the quality of brownies and cookies have anything to do with the success of a political campaign, this race is over. Those brownies were stellar, the cookies nearly as good.
Of course campaigns are NOT decided by the quality of the baked goods (no matter how much we'd want them to be). Campaigns are decided on a number of things - one of which is the set of ideas presented to the public. The meme for the DeSantis campaign can, as far as I could tell, be boiled down to one simple word: change.
The HQ itself is a modest set of rooms one floor below from the Republican HQ downtown. I felt rather uneasy, being so close to so many Republicans. It wasn't that bad after a few brownies, to be honest. No one had any horns or a pointed tail - not that I could see, anyway. The walls are freshly painted a calm blue and green. There's a room called the "coalition room" with lists tacked up on the walls of the various groups (business groups, women's groups, gay organizations, and so on) the campaign is looking to reach out to. Another room contained some chairs and a podium. It's where DeSantis can have press conferences in-house.
One of the campaign's communications folks told me they realise in a city that's 5-to-1 Democratic-to-Republican, they're going to have to reach out beyond their party and so they're aiming not only for Republicans, but to independents and to those who just don't want to vote for "the machine." They're looking to convince folks that he's a moderate Republican, that he's not a Santorum or a George W. Bush. In otherwords (and I guess they're mine) no horns or tail.
When DeSantis began to speak to the group, he emphasized that he was the candidate for change and that "something is going on" in the city - the people are looking for change. They want new leadership, he said. A new way of thinking about government. A new anything. When describing the relationship between a city's people and its government, he said one is a reflection of the other - but mid-sentence he corrected himself. Not this government, he said. He wouldn't describe what he thought of the current administration in city hall. "There are children present," he said.
If I had a beef with DeSantis, it was his misuse of the label for the party that's not his. Twice he used the phrase "Democrat mayor" in his brief history of city politics in the 20th ceentury. If he's looking to reach out across the political aisle, he's not going to make things any easier by using the wrong label. It's "Democrat-IC" for the modifyer, not "Democrat."