Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America, CC BY-SA 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

DeSantis has momentum in bid to wrestle GOP away from Trump

Yelling at young students is not typically a wise political tactic. These are not, however, typical political times. Only one star in the Republican universe shines brighter these days: former President Donald Trump.

DeSantis, the Republican governor of what he calls the “free state of Florida” over his COVID-19-skeptical policies, left last weekend’s Conservative Political Action Conference with ample momentum. He cut into Trump’s lead in CPAC’s 2024 presidential straw poll by a double-digit margin.

After Trump has so dominated the GOP since he became its presidential nominee in June 2015, the 28 percent who said they — right now, at least — would prefer DeSantis to be the Republican presidential nominee in two years might look insignificant against the 59 percent who chose The Donald.

But consider this: Trump won the July version of the CPAC survey with a commanding 70 percent. The Florida chief executive netted 21 percent just eight months ago.

“The only person who can stop DeSantis is Donald Trump. The rivalry, even disdain, between them is real and growing,” former Florida Republican Rep. David Jolly told CQ Roll Call. “But if Trump doesn’t run, the 2024 GOP primary will be more a coronation than a contest, similar to the 2000 nomination of Bush 43, when the field was cleared for him. Barring Trump, it’s Ron DeSantis and then everyone else.”

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