Hmm. A Florida Democrat shocks county Democrat Party with endorsement of Ron DeSantis for governor

AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell

It’s an interesting story. A four times elected Democrat in heavily Democrat Palm Beach County, Florida has endorsed Governor Ron DeSantis for re-election. Dave Kerner delivered a robust endorsement for Governor DeSantis on Tuesday.

Kerner is a former police officer, who is a lawyer, and served two terms in the Florida House of Representatives. In 2016 he was elected to the County Commission and re-elected to the commission in 2020. He is term-limited from running for re-election. A top focus of Kerner’s endorsement was the support DeSantis shows for law enforcement.

Kerner and DeSantis heaped effusive praise on each other at a rally at the Palm Beach County Police Benevolent Association, called solely for the purpose of the endorsement announcement.

“We are a state on the rise, and I give a lot of credit to our governor for the trajectory of our state,” Kerner said.

“I have never been beholden to the rigid and disingenuous confines of partisan politics,” he said. “This was not a difficult choice for me. This was not the proverbial lesser of two evils. Gov. DeSantis has demonstrated himself beyond worthy of the humbling duties of his office. And he has done so with the level of dignity, purpose and respect that is lost in the public sphere today.”

Kerner said DeSantis has the backs of law enforcement officers. “Everybody says it. But you do it. You have their six. You have their back,” Kerner said. “I haven’t experienced that from a governor when I was a police officer. But it sure is a hell of a thing to have now.”

Kerner was a city of Alachua police officer from 2004-2007. For most of that time, Republican Jeb Bush was governor, before he was succeeded by Crist in 2007.

Kerner said Crist supports “reallocation, which to me by the way is a code word for taking resources away from the men and women that protect us. It’s a code word for defunding the police.”

Democrats and their cohort, Politifact, have been busy tamping down the claim by DeSantis supporters that Democrat candidate Charlie Crist, the former governor, is on board with the Defund the Police movement. A Republican television ad against Crist has been running since the day after Crist won the Democrat nomination last month. Politifact concludes, “No, Charlie Crist doesn’t support an agenda to ‘defund the police.’”

It is commonly thought that Kerner has ambitions of becoming Palm Beach County sheriff in the future, according to reporting.

The Palm Beach County Democratic Party chairwoman is shocked. She puts a happy face on her shock, though, by saying that Kerner’s endorsement won’t “carry any weight among Democrats.”

Terrie Rizzo, chairwoman of the Palm Beach County Democratic Party, said the endorsement would “absolutely not” carry any weight among Democrats “because Democrats know who Ron DeSantis is. Democrats know what kind of governor he is and what he’s done. And Democrats will vote for Charlie Crist. The reaction I’m hearing from rank-and-file Democrats is this is outrageous.”

“I am totally and completely shocked by Dave Kerner, and incredibly disappointed — it’s not a strong enough word — that Dave Kerner could support Gov. Ron DeSantis,” Rizzo said.

Rizzo said Democrats would respond “not well” to a future Kerner candidacy.

About 40% of the county’s registered voters are Democrats, 31% are no party affiliation-independents or registered in minor parties, and 29% are Republicans.

He doesn’t consider his endorsement as an act of courage, as some people are calling it. He said that though he’s been a registered Democrat since he was 18 years old, he’s acting as a Floridian, an American first. Besides his support of law enforcement, Kerner also noted the way in which DeSantis handled the coronavirus pandemic in Florida. He thinks there is more support for DeSantis than is being given credit.

There has been a lot of that, what I call sort of shadow support for sure. Obviously, Governor DeSantis is doing an incredible job in Florida. He’s America’s governor, but there is a lot of support out there. And it’s been referred to me by many people that have called me or texted me. You know, it’s an act of courage, what you did and you should be proud. And it’s not about what I did. It’s about the governor’s record of service in the state of Florida. But ultimately, it should not be an act of courage and should not be seen as an act of courage.

Real Clear Politics aggregated averaging has DeSantis up by 4.8 points. I’ll be surprised if the race ends up even that close. No one, except maybe Charlie Crist, expects Crist to win.

DeSantis heaped some praise on Kerner at the rally.

“Florida is a law-and-order state because we put the safety of Floridians first and we stand up for law enforcement and reject the Left’s anti-police movement,” DeSantis said. “We are focused on protecting victims and not coddling criminals, and no one knows that better than Dave, who served Florida’s communities. Commissioner Kerner knows first-hand the threat of the ‘defund the police’ movement and understands the important role that our local law enforcement officers play in keeping Florida safe.”

Kerner told the crowd he would campaign for DeSantis every day until November 8. This race may need some popcorn before it’s all over.

David Strom 7:01 PM on September 24, 2022