Continuing our discussion of The Courage to Be Free: Florida’s Blueprint for America’s Revival, by Ron DeSantis… in the opening post regarding this book, I noted that a Boston progressive had confidently condemned DeSantis for aiding and abetting actual slavery that the Florida sugar industry was managing (humans arriving and departing the U.S. on ships in chains). It turns out that Ron DeSantis might be Big Sugar’s worst enemy. The bad blood started when Big Sugar backed Ron’s gubernatorial primary opponent in 2018. DeSantis was quitting Congress because he knew that he wouldn’t be able to accomplish anything with Democrats about to obtain a majority in the House.
By April [2018, the campaign luck] changed. A shadowy political group started blanketing the airwaves throughout Florida with false attacks against me. The group was funded by entrenched corporate interests in Florida, led by U.S. Sugar Corporation, Putnam’s biggest supporter. The ads were false and completely ridiculous. But we couldn’t answer them, because I did not have enough money at this early point of the campaign. And Big Sugar’s ads were airing nonstop on virtually every conservative-leaning news source on TV and radio. At about the same time, Putnam started airing ads to boost his own image and to portray himself as a strong conservative. To Republican voters who did not know anything about Putnam, these ads presented a compelling narrative.
Ron eventually overcomes Big Sugar’s candidate and Democrat Andrew Gillum. Once installed in Tallahassee, Ron’s agenda quickly comes into conflict with Big Sugar’s interests.
Before taking office, I flew up to DC to meet with President Trump. My goal was to convince him to direct the Army Corps to manage the lake in a more balanced manner. “Mr. President, I need your help regarding the discharges of algae-laden water from Lake Okeechobee,” I told him. “What do you want, money?” the president asked. “Well, eventually, yes, but immediately I need help with the Army Corps of Engineers,” I replied. “Oh, the Army Corps is the worst!” he thundered. “I mean, they are good people, but they have the worst red tape in the entire government!”
During my first week in office, I acted. I issued a far-reaching executive order to reorient Florida’s water policy in a better direction, convened a task force that could offer recommendations for legislative reforms, appointed independent members to the governing board of the South Florida Water Management District, and proposed historic funding to support water quality, infrastructure, and restoration. While Big Sugar did not like it, most people across the political spectrum in Florida were thrilled. We ended up securing major funding support and enacting water quality legislation. We made clear that the old ways of doing business were over.
In May 2022, the Tampa Bay Times wrote “Gov. Ron DeSantis has openly sparred with the industry since his two terms in Congress and during the 2018 gubernatorial primary, when he won the endorsement of the Everglades Trust…” From June 2022, Miami Herald: “DeSantis vetoes bill favoring sugar growers over Everglades”.
- “How Big Sugar gets what it wants from Congress” (Colorado Independent 2011)
- “[Democratic Senator from Vermont] Peter Welch accepts thousands in campaign donations from sugar industry PACs” (VT Digger 2022)
ARIA’s Christmas sugar display…
4 thoughts on “Ron DeSantis and Big Sugar”
Which woke publication links DeSantis to sugar cane slavery? All I can find are incorrect stories that DeSantis bans discussion of slavery in schools.
Ban sugar next!
They are terrified of him. It really doesn’t matter if Trump is leading in the polls vs. DeSantis, the bottom line is that even if he loses this time around, DeSantis is going to be a very powerful force in the Republican party for many years to come. They want to kneecap him *now*.
I think you said that your progressive friend who detests DeSantis because he’s out there locking the chains around slaves for Big Sugar was a professor of something or other. I assume he’s also a professor at a “Good School.” I feel badly for his students because IMHO one of the first things all “good professors” should possess and use almost reflexively is: “check the sources, regardless of your ‘beliefs'” He uses that line to shut conversation down as quickly as possible by once again reaching for one of the most horrible tropes he can get his hands on. That’s not a professor, it’s at best a person who is fundamentally dishonest with themselves, intellectually speaking. I wouldn’t want to take a course from him on that basis alone. Sad.
DeSantis is blatantly transactional. Had Big Sugar backed him, he couldn’t do enough for them. He will be a force for a long time, but I doubt 2024 is his year unless Trump is forcibly removed from the primaries. He also has a personality problem that puts off voters outside the base.
OTOH, the opponent will be Joe. God help us.
Thank you for the article. I have admired how DeSantis took on tge sugar industry.
I believe the rift started earlier when DeSantus was in the US House. He was one of the few elected officials from Florida to oppose the price support system out of principle.
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