DeSantis positions himself as Trump's heir to the White House

“When you look under the hood of those numbers, DeSantis garners a lot of support from Trump voters in the absence of Trump,” Fabrizio said. “As the media beat him up as the anti-Cuomo and DeSantis stood up for himself, voters liked that. They associate that type of scrappiness and speaking your mind with President Trump. He is inheriting a lot of that.”

Allies say DeSantis, who did not respond to requests for comment, relishes an adversarial relationship with a press that they believe has rendered him a Republican martyr, precisely the type who can position himself as heir to the Trump mantle. Those who work in or around his political orbit insist he is focused first on 2022 but acknowledge the temptations of 2024.

“Ron DeSantis has quickly become the most recognizable Republican governor in the country, and I think that only bodes well for both his re-election and what he wants to do after that,” said Brad Herold, DeSantis’ 2018 campaign manager.