‘If you cross him once, you’re dead’: DeSantis keeps tight grip on Florida lawmakers

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Gov. Ron DeSantis has become arguably the most powerful governor in Florida’s history.

The Republican governor opened Florida’s new legislative session this week by pushing for even more control over state lawmakers and his top priorities, including cracking down on election crimes, spending $8 million to transport “unauthorized aliens” out of state and targeting “wokeness” in schools.

His move comes in the wake of November wins in Tallahassee, where DeSantis pressured lawmakers to approve bans on vaccine mandates that solidified his reputation in the state and nationally as one of the biggest foes of President Joe Biden.

With one year left in his first term in office, DeSantis’ consolidation of power has become clear: Democrats, who are in the minority, are unable to stop him. And Republicans in the Florida Legislature are enthusiastically carrying out his wishes or are unwilling to buck him.

“He’s become the 1,100-pound gorilla in state government,” said Tom Lee, a Republican and former Senate president who dealt with four different governors during the 18 years he was in the Legislature. Lee’s wife is Secretary of State Laurel Lee, a DeSantis appointee. “Gov. DeSantis is extremely popular relative to

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