GREEN BAY – Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis drew hundreds to a hotel ballroom in Green Bay just an hour before the Packers’ home opener against the Chicago Bears, predicting Wisconsin would turn into Sunshine State of the north if Tim Michels is elected governor in November.
That idea, much like its architect, is polarizing — receiving a standing ovation from conservatives who gathered Sunday to see the potential 2024 presidential candidate, while Wisconsin Democrats blasted the approach as “radical and dangerous.”
“With Tim Michels as governor, you’re going to be able to do everything Florida has done and more on the issue of election integrity,” DeSantis said to loud cheers at an event hosted by the conservative Turning Point Action.
Michels focused on the 2020 election during the Republican primary race but has turned his campaign to issues of crime and schools in the general election against Gov. Tony Evers. On Sunday, he reiterated his intention to sign legislation vetoed by Evers that would tighten voting rules and in some cases add new restrictions.
He also suggested he would sign legislation that would end voters’ ability to declare themselves indefinitely confined and receive absentee ballots for each election without new applications.
DeSantis also promised Michels would sign legislation to mirror Florida’s aggressive approach to bar COVID-19 rules and mandates, and touted his response to Disney chief executive Bob Chapek’s criticism of a law DeSantis signed that barred classroom lessons related to sexual orientation or gender identity for the youngest students in public schools.
“I said, ‘You know, you have the right to speak and do this woke stuff but you don’t have the right to force us as Florida taxpayers to subsidize your activism,’ ” DeSantis said, referring to action he pursued to take over a special taxing district Disney World had been operating under for decades that gave them broad control over the land that is home to the massive theme park.
DeSantis’ speculations of major transformations under a Michels administration that would compare to his aggressive and controversial approach came as DeSantis is facing criticism over sending 50 migrants from Texas to the liberal enclave of Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts.
“One of the biggest failures of the rule of law is happening on the southern border and until last week, nobody was really talking much about it,” DeSantis said Sunday.
The campaign for Evers, who is seeking a second term in November against Michels, said DeSantis was not welcome in Wisconsin and pounced on the timing of the event.
“Wisconsinites don’t want an out of touch, out of state radical ruining their Sunday — and they don’t want Ron DeSantis here either,” Sam Roecker, a senior advisor to the Evers campaign said in a statement, referring to Michels splitting his time between Wisconsin and Connecticut.
“Tim Michels continues to show Wisconsin voters that he’s wrong for our state, and holding an event just before a Packers game with one of the most divisive politicians in the country is another red flag.”
U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher and Attorney General candidate Eric Toney also spoke at Sunday’s event, with Johnson and Gallagher wearing Packers gear while the others donned suits.
Contact Molly Beck at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @MollyBeck.