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DeSantis rises in the ranks, despite attacks on his COVID-19 policies

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A year ago, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis was struggling to contain COVID, the state’s economy was in tatters, and cases and deaths were rising.

  • Now his stature has risen as he heads into his reelection race next year — and he’s a top-tier Republican for 2024 if former President Trump doesn’t run, AP’s Bobby Caina Calvan writes.

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Why it matters: DeSantis remained defiant in the face of attacks on his hardline opposition to mask mandates and lockdowns.

  • “Hold the line. Don’t back down,” he told a crowd at a party fundraiser in Pittsburgh in May. “And in the state of Florida, with me as governor, I have only begun to fight.”

The big picture: Earlier this month DeSantis signed an executive order ending all local COVID-19 emergency orders, effectively stopping the enforcement of restrictions across Florida.

  • Later in May he said he intends to pardon “any Floridian” facing “outstanding infractions” for violating COVID-19 guidances, such as mask mandates and social distancing.

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