The Race to the Bottom

Commentary/News with a Twist

Rounding the final turn, Abbott and DeSantis are neck and neck

The GOP Governors’ Derby, “The Race to the Bottom,” is rounding the last turn with Texas’ Greg Abbott and Florida’s Ron DeSantis neck and neck, leaving the rest of the field in the mud(slinging).

Abbot had pulled slightly ahead of DeSantis last week after issuing an order directing Texas’ health agencies to handle certain gender-affirming treatments as crimes. Abbott’s order was based on Texas attorney general Ken Paxton’s (who’s in his own “AG Race to the Bottom”) determination that providing medical treatments such as puberty blockers and hormone therapy could “legally constitute child abuse” under Texas law.

But Abbot couldn’t maintain the pace after a Texas judge partially blocked enforcement of his order.

Seeking an advantage with Abbott slowing down, DeSantis moved to pass him on the far right.

In an attempt to build on the momentum of his “Don’t Say Gay” bill, the Florida governor doubled down at a press conference at the University of South Florida in Tampa.*

(*It is beyond my geographic comprehension why the University of SOUTH Florida is in Tampa! Chalk it up to the Sunshine State’s stellar educational system, I guess.)

North is North and South is South, except in Florida

In a shocking display of child abuse of his own, DeSantis yelled at a bunch of students behind him for wearing masks. “You do not have to wear those masks,” he scolded them, angrily. After some of the students nervously laughed, DeSantis chided them, “I mean, please take them off. Honestly, it’s not doing anything and we’ve gotta stop with this COVID theater. So, if you want to wear it, fine, but this is ridiculous.” He then walked to his podium shaking his head in disgust.

Then, at the same press conference, the Governor sought to increase his lead over Abbott when, in praising the courage of the Ukrainian people, he said, “A lot of other places around the world, they just fold the minute there’s any type of adversity. Can you imagine if he [Putin] went into France? Would they do anything to put up a fight? Probably not.”

In an all-out attempt to win, DeSantis, had unsheathed his riding crop, whipping himself into a frenzy. The governor, a magna cum laude graduate of Yale with a degree in history (I kid you not!), apparently forgot that France is the U.S.’ oldest ally, is a member of NATO with one of Europe’s most advanced militaries and one of the world’s largest nuclear arsenals, and has a president, Emmanuel Macron, who in trying to engage Putin, lamented after his latest communication, “the worst is to come.”*

(*Macron had no comment regarding his last face-to-face meeting with Putin.)

The question now is, can Abbot close the gap on DeSantis? Will there be a late stretch run by a dark horse candidate like Iowa governor Kim Reynolds, whose ‘gibberish’ laden response to the State of the Union speech has moved her from a 1,000-1 shot to the middle of the pack?

Time will tell. But when it comes to “The Race to the Bottom,” my money is on the one and only, our own, Ron DeSantis.

Published by Ted Block

Ted Block is a veteran “Mad Man,” having spent 45+ years in the advertising industry. During his career, he was media director of several advertising agencies, including Benton & Bowles in New York and Foote, Cone and Belding in San Francisco; account management director on clients as varied as Clorox, Levi’s and the California Raisin Advisory Board (yes, Ted was responsible for the California Dancing Raisins campaign); and regional director for Asia based in Tokyo for Foote, Cone where he was also the founding president of FCB’s Japanese operations. Ted holds a Bachelor’s degree in communications from Queens College and, before starting in advertising, served on active duty as an officer on USS McCloy (DE-1038) in the U.S. Navy. Besides writing Around the Block, Ted is also a guest columnist for the Palm Beach Post.

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