DeSantis uses rally to endorse Schmidt

Controversial Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis headlined an endorsement rally for Kansas Republican gubernatorial candidate Derek Schmidt in Olathe on Sunday.


State News

September 19, 2022 - 2:29 PM

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis endorsed Attorney General Derek Schmidt’s campaign for Kansas governor Sunday during an Olathe rally. Schmidt is campaigning against Gov. Laura Kelly and two other candidates. Photo by (Tim Carpenter/Kansas Reflector)

OLATHE — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis worked to broaden his 2024 presidential foundation Sunday by traveling to Kansas to headline an endorsement rally for Republican gubernatorial nominee Derek Schmidt.

Presence of DeSantis and other conservatives at Schmidt campaign events less than two months ahead of the November election appears to reflect competitiveness of the contest with Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly. Schmidt’s strategy could be associated with the insurgent campaign for governor by right-wing independent state Sen. Dennis Pyle, who is expected to peel votes away from the GOP nominee.

DeSantis, who emerged on the stage after a flashy promotional video, said he was in Kansas to help convince undecided voters to side with the GOP’s nominee. DeSantis devoted much of his 50-minute speech to his own accomplishments as Florida governor and a roster of decisions made by President Joe Biden, but sprinkled those remarks with praise for elements of Schmidt’s campaign agenda.

“Part of the reason I’m here is because if you look over the last few years governors have been more important to peoples’ freedoms than ever before,” he said. “You saw this here in Kansas and they saw it in California, New York and Illinois and all these states where you had leftist governors locking people down. In Florida, we lifted people up.”

DeSantis said Kelly was in step with Biden’s agenda, including response to the COVID-19 pandemic, proclaiming there was “no daylight between them. Basically, it’s like having Biden as governor here.”

He touched on a campaign talking point favored by Schmidt about Kelly’s veto of two sweeping tax bills that included repeal of the state sales tax on groceries. Subsequently, Kelly advocated for elimination July 1 of the state’s 6.5% sales tax on groceries. The Republican-led Legislature rejected that idea and approved a bill signed by the governor in 2022 phasing out that regressive state tax over three years.

“Right when people needed her, she stood on the side of the tax collector rather than the taxpayer,” DeSantis said. “I think you need a governor like Derek Schmidt who is going to put taxpayers first.”

Midway through the speech, to the delight of the audience, DeSantis delved into his effort to throw a spotlight on influx of immigrants into the United States. He defended his stir-the-pot expenditure of $615,000 Florida tax dollars — $12,300 per person — to fly 50 migrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts. He has said people boarded those two flights voluntarily. There have been calls for a federal investigation to determine whether the immigrants were misled and the flights approximated human trafficking.

“They were homeless. They were hungry. They were trying to get to places like Florida and others. They were given basically a lottery ticket to get to the wealthiest sanctuary,” he said to laughter from the crowd. “If you’re going to support open borders, then you should have to deal with the consequences.”

DeSantis referred to establishment of Martha’s Vineyard as a sanctuary jurisdiction and the hostility expressed by some in that wealthy enclave after unexpected arrival of immigrants. The governor said the position of those island residents amounted to “self-congratulatory virtue signaling.”

He also said immigration was one example of how elites and leftists in the United States wanted to impose an ideology on the nation while casting dissenters as second-class citizens.

The governor encouraged the audience to be culture warriors against the “woke mind virus,” but warned the stakes were high and the struggle would be difficult.

He illustrated that point while attacking Disney, pressing for greater scrutiny of school curriculum and library books, demanding transgender boys be forbidden from playing sports against girls, and denouncing The New York Times’ “1619 Project” regarding U.S. history and racism.

Olathe resident Judah Prince, right, attended the Olathe rally with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Prince hopes DeSantis wins the 2024 presidential nomination because DeSantis offers conservative values without recklessness of former President Donald Trump. Photo by (Tim Carpenter/Kansas Reflector)

Schmidt welcomes support

Schmidt, who has served as Kansas attorney general for more than a decade, told more than 1,000 people at the “united and win” rally that support of DeSantis was welcomed. Schmidt also used the event to plow through a critique of Kelly’s work as chief executive of Kansas.