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What's first on the agenda for Florida's next governor, Ron DeSantis?

DeSantis general victory
Governor elect Ron DeSantis takes the stage with his wife Casey after winning the election over Democrat Andrew Gillum. Photo by Chris Urso, Times Staff photographer

ORLANDO – It was past midnight on Election Night, and some Ron DeSantis supporters still lingered in the fading glow of the dimly lit ballroom in Orlando’s Rosen Centre Hotel to take pictures as metallic red, white and blue confetti clung to the carpet.

It was a nail-biter of a night, which began with a much different atmosphere, but ended with yet another victory for Republicans.

The question loomed: what’s next?

DeSantis rose to popularity in large part because of an endorsement from President Donald Trump, in addition to championing a low taxes opposed to Gillum’s proposal to hike the corporate income tax to generate $1 billion for education.  As a former Congressman who spent three terms in Washington, many questions remain about how this newcomer to Tallahassee will handle his new role at the helm of the nation’s third-largest state.

He offered some brief insight Tuesday night.

“I think the first priority in terms of what’s really urgent for Florida is really getting us on a strong track on the water quality and the environment so we’ll be taking action very quickly,” he told a gaggle of reporters shortly after making his victory speech at the Rosen Centre Hotel, referring to the toxic green algae seeping out of Lake Okeechobee. “I’ve talked to the president about this ... I told him some of this infrastructure needs to get going. We just got the reservoir off the rise, there's a lot we need to do there."

“We’re also looking forward to appointing the three Supreme Court justices," DeSantis continued. "These will be very, very smart very principled people. They’re going to understand their role is to understand the law, not rewrite the law.”

DeSantis also said that his team has already been moving forward in putting his administration together “behind the scenes” to get a head start on the transition. There’s a short window after the new governor is elected to decide on a slew of state agency appointments plus filling out the governor’s staff.

He also said he hoped Florida would unify because “at some point the campaigns have to stop,” adding that the environment in particular is an issue where he hoped to find bipartisan support.

And finally, he offered a tongue-in-cheek suggestion of what he’d prefer for Andrew Gillum’s future, as well. The two spoke over the phone on Election Night when Gillum called to concede.

“I told him, I was like, ‘Look, you’re a hell of an adversary. I don’t think any other Democrat could’ve done what you did,’” he recounted to reporters. “I was like ‘If you’re going to run in 2022, just run against Rubio, don’t run against me.’”

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