Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis opened the new session of the Florida legislature Tuesday in a speech touting his administration’s accomplishments and promising that Florida will remain “number one” through his second term.
At the beginning his annual State of the State address, DeSantis — a former Navy officer and JAG prosecutor — gave Tallahassee lawmakers the bottom line, up front, “Florida is number one, and working together we will ensure that Florida remains the number one state in these United States.”
Fresh off a 19-point landslide re-election victory, the governor touted the accomplishments of his first term, mentioning cutting taxes, defending parental rights in education and standing up to the “bio-medical security state” by opposing “jab or job” vaccine mandates — actions that have each won praise from conservative admirers around the country. He bragged that Florida ranks number one for immigration from other states, number one in economic growth among large states, number one in tourism and has record-low unemployment and record-high budget surpluses.
“We’ve led the nation on many big issues. We don’t make excuses, we don’t complain, we just produce results,” DeSantis declared.
Though widely expected by political pundits to be mulling a Republican presidential bid in 2024, DeSantis avoided the bombast and political showmanship that might be associated with a candidate. The governor instead delivered a matter-of-fact address celebrating Florida’s conservative wins and preparing the legislature to deliver more victories for the Republican base.
Looking forward, DeSantis called on the legislature to expand gun rights by making Florida a “constitutional carry” state, make protections against “unwanted medical interventions” permanent, and to press the attack on hot-button cultural issues including critical race theory in education and sex-reassignment surgeries and hormone therapies for transgender minors.
“It’s sad that we have to say this, but our children are not guinea pigs for science experimentation, and we cannot allow people to make money off mutilating them,” DeSantis said. He acknowledged that Chloe Cole, a former transgender child who has spoken about against “gender-affirming care” for minors, was in attendance to his address.
“Chloe, thank you for your bravery and the people of Florida and the legislature should heed your advice and provide protections against these procedures,” the governor said.
In personal news, DeSantis spared a moment to announce that his wife, Florida first lady Casey DeSantis, is now doing “better than ever” and is cancer-free after a battle with breast cancer in 2021, which received loud applause from the legislature.
Concluding his roughly 30-minute address, DeSantis encouraged lawmakers to ignore critics in the media and advance their agenda through this next legislative session.
“Don’t worry about the chattering class. Ignore all the background noise. Keep the compass set to true north,” DeSantis said. “We sill stand strong, we will hold the line, we won’t back down, and I can promise you this: you ain’t seen nothing yet.”