Jacksonville Shootings, Hurricane Idalia Test DeSantis Leadership 

Gov. Ron DeSantis gives a press conference as Hurricane Idalia makes landfall. Screenshot via Facebook.

Coming out of the first Republican debate relatively unscathed, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ leadership capabilities were tested by a racially motivated attack and a pending hurricane. 

DeSantis suspended his presidential campaign in the wake of the shootings in Jacksonville. He was booed and heckled during a vigil for the three victims, who were gunned down at a Dollar General store on Aug. 26. 

Florida Sen. Shevrin Jones (D-Miami) said the tragedy was a direct result of DeSantis’ policies. 

“It’s not only a result, but it gives individuals who committed this act a hall pass to make it seem like it’s OK,” Jones told NBC News. 

DeSantis signed Florida’s new permitless carry law, which took effect in July. He has frequently spoken out against critical race theory being taught in Florida classrooms, and helped draw up a new congressional districts map that eliminated a long-time majority Black district. 

“How much can we allow the governor to keep his foot on our neck and not say anything?” Jones asked. 

The Justice Department is investigating the shootings as a hate crime. The gunman, a White 21-year-old from Clay County, reportedly, wrote extensively about his racism toward Black people. 

Before the shooting, DeSantis was campaigning in Iowa following the first Republican debate. Staying out of the fray among the eight candidates, DeSantis kept to his stump speech of reversing America’s decline and “sending Joe Biden back to his basement in Delaware.” 

Meanwhile, Hurricane Idalia churned in the Gulf of Mexico, expected to make landfall Wednesday in Florida’s Big Bend region as a Category 4 storm.


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