Rep. Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick, D-Fla., expressed admiration for how Gov. Ron DeSantis brought new energy to the Republican Party, and called for a similar overhaul among Florida Democrats.
DeSantis and the Florida GOP won decisive victories during the 2022 midterm election. The rout of the Florida Democrats was so severe that a local Florida news outlet referred to the new state political map as a “crimson hellscape.” The article said that the governor managed to carry “62 of 67 counties” and establish “a sea of red reflecting an epic Democratic collapse” in the state.
Cherfilus-McCormick spoke to The Floridian about how state Democrats need to make a change, and they can learn from DeSantis’ leadership, “I don’t think everybody’s had the ‘come to Jesus’ moment when they realize that the only way we could win is that fresh new energy that can really bring it back together.”
The congresswoman said that there is not so much a lack of leadership among Florida Democrats as that present leadership is “ineffective,” adding further that the local party has not embraced a “generational shift.”
She observed that while there has been a tectonic shift of new, young Democrats in the national party, the same cannot be said for Florida, “We keep picking from the same talent pool, the same group of friends, and with that, they’re conditioned to do it the same way, use the same consultants, the same people, the same talking points.”
She said that by contrast, “Right now we need a new burst of energy that understands how we win.”
Cherfilus-McCormick recounted how she saw Republicans campaigning in neighborhoods at the same time local Democrat leadership told her they could not afford to fund parallel efforts themselves.
She did mention a “burst of energy” among Republicans, however, that came from DeSantis as well as former President Trump.
“DeSantis actually gave the party a burst of energy that they hadn’t seen in a while, you see when Trump came in, Trump came in with new ideas, the energy was behind it, and I think the biggest precursor as to who’s going to win comes to the energy level,” she said.
She told The Floridian, “We started seeing that DeSantis was having different types of meetings, and he was having these rallies, and people were getting there three hours just to stand there. Not people who were paid to stand there, but they were actually there to stand there, to hear him … people saw him as new, fresh, and ambitious. They’re going there.”