A few takeaways from Republican Ron DeSantis' victory over Democrat Andrew Gillum in the Florida governor's race:
1) Victory for Trump: President Donald Trump invested heavily in the race to lead his adopted home state, making two visits in the final week of the campaign and attacking Gillum on Twitter. DeSantis was as closely tied to the president as any candidate in the nation this year, while Gillum and Democrats wanted Florida to deliver a rebuke to the president. “We have the opportunity to send Mr. DeSantis and Mr. Trump both a message on Nov. 6,” Gillum said at a rally last week in Miami with former President Barack Obama. “We have a chance to send them an unapologetic message, one that will not confuse them, that their brand of politics is no longer acceptable in the state of Florida.”
2) Red counties turned out: DeSantis won 44 of Florida's 67 counties, and in most of them he substantially improved upon the margins Gov. Rick Scott got in his narrow re-election win in 2014. Lee County, where Trump held a rally last week to pump up Republican turnout, went for DeSantis by nearly 63,000 votes -- coming close to the 66,643-vote margin it handed Trump in the higher-turnout 2016 presidential race.
3) Biggest blue counties underperformed: Final figures are not yet available, but it appears statewide turnout exceeded 61 percent. But in Miami-Dade, where Gillum and Democrats hoped to run up the score, turnout was around 56 percent. In Broward County, another key Democratic vote center, turnout was around 57 percent. Palm Beach County, a third key county for Democrats, was close to the statewide average with turnout near 61 percent.
4) Key strategist: Susie Wiles, brought in to jump-start DeSantis’ stalling campaign in September, has now played a key role in three of Florida’s most remarkable Republican wins of the last decade. In 2010, Wiles managed outsider Rick Scott’s establishment-shocking 2010 Republican primary win and eventual election as governor. In 2016, Wiles came in after Labor Day to be chief Florida strategist for Trump, who trailed Hillary Clinton in the polls but went on to carry the state by 1.2 percent. Now Wiles has overseen a victory for DeSantis after nearly every public poll showed him trailing. In his victory speech Tuesday night, DeSantis called her “really the best in the business.”
5) Judicial appointments: Three Florida Supreme Court justices appointed in the 1990s by the last Democratic governor, Lawton Chiles, will retire in January. The court rejected Scott's bid to fill the vacancies before he leaves office, ruling that the new governor should appoint them. DeSantis pledged throughout the campaign to appoint conservative judges.
6) Tax cuts? DeSantis didn’t run on a very detailed policy platform, pledging mainly to continue the low-tax, low-regulation policies of Scott. But his campaign website did call for reducing the state’s 5.5 percent corporate income tax by an unspecified amount, phasing out the business rent tax and reducing the communication services tax on TV, cellphones and streaming video services.
7) Water quality: Beginning in the GOP primary, when he sought to depict rival Adam Putnam as an “errand boy” for the sugar industry, DeSantis pledged to improve water quality in the state. In his victory speech Tuesday night, DeSantis said: "If you’re somebody that is interested in protecting the environment that Floridians enjoy, you can count on me to stand for clean water, stop the toxic algae, fight red tide and restore the Everglades."