The Phoenix Flyer

‘DeSantis Watch’: Progressive groups blast governor for affordable housing crisis, other issues

By: - July 13, 2022 2:08 pm

Renters without jobs during the coronavirus pandemic face eviction. Credit: Ned Oliver/Virginia Mercury/States Newsroom

As Gov. Ron DeSantis continues to campaign for his reelection bid, two progressive organizations have teamed up to push back against the Republican governor’s policies in a new project using digital messaging through social media and digital advertisements.

The “DeSantis Watch” is a joint effort by Progress Florida and Florida Watch to defeat DeSantis in the November gubernatorial election.

The website features a video posted on YouTube with various news clips that touch on “skyrocketing rents” and “out of control property insurance rates.”

Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at a press conference in Fort Walton Beach on June 9, 2022. Credit: Screenshot/Florida Channel

Natasha Sutherland, constituencies director of DeSantis Watch, said in a written statement Wednesday that “the governor is rubbing shoulders with his wealthy donors in order to advance his own political ambitions rather than addressing the housing crisis in our state.” That’s a reference to a potential presidential campaign in 2024.

That said, Florida has seen a dramatic spike in rent for apartments and houses in 2022, as previously reported by the Florida Phoenix.

In fact, Florida’s rental market has become problematic for many families and workers battling to afford surging rent prices over the past two years, according to a March 2022 report covering Florida’s rental market by Florida TaxWatch, a nonpartisan, nonprofit taxpayer research institute.

The new project “will shine a spotlight on the failures of Governor Ron DeSantis to improve the lives of the people of our state while he remains focused on his future political ambitions,” according to a Tuesday press release from DeSantis Watch.

“In Ron DeSantis’ Florida, the only real freedom that exists is the freedom to be pawns in the governor’s quest for power at the expense of serving the people he was actually elected to represent,” Sutherland said in the written statement Wednesday.

Anders Croy, communications director of DeSantis Watch, said in a written statement Tuesday:

“Ron DeSantis cares about one thing and one thing only: himself. DeSantis Watch is here to hold the governor accountable for his focus on policies that help him raise money from out-of-state billionaires and corporate donors at the expense of Floridians who are doing everything right but can’t afford the freedom of a roof over their heads or access to quality health care. We refuse to let Ron DeSantis continue using the people of Florida as stepping-stones on his climb up the political ladder.”

DeSantis has a massive war chest going into the November election.

Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried and U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, the main Democrats in the gubernatorial race, will be facing off in the August primary.

The DeSantis Watch project is connected to a political committee called Florida Watch PC, according to state elections data. On the website, people can make donations.

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Issac Morgan
Issac Morgan

Issac Morgan is a 2009 graduate of Florida A&M University's School of Journalism, and a proud native of Tallahassee. He has covered city council and community events at the Gadsden County Times, worked as a sports news assistant at the Tallahassee Democrat, a communications specialist for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and as a proofreader at the Florida Law Weekly.