TALLAHASSEE, Florida—While much of the country bundles up around the holidays, Floridians revel in bragging about their “T-shirt weather.”
It’s not unusual for December temperatures to hit the 80s in the Sunshine State. But what stands out as strange is the number of natives sporting short-sleeve shirts emblazoned with images of their governor, Ron DeSantis.
DeSantis, a Republican, has taken on both rock-star and villain status in his state, depending on who is asked, largely because of the way he has pushed back against policies from Washington and the Biden administration.
Comments during DeSantis’s live broadcasts and on his social media pages show that interest in what he’s doing stretches far beyond Florida’s borders. Posts from users in other states, and even other countries, often refer to him as “America’s Governor” and beg him to run for president. Others deride him as “moRon,” “Death-Santis” or “DeSatan.”
As never before, Floridians proudly wear their feelings for their top executive on their sleeves. When DeSantis shows up in little towns and big cities around the state for his almost-daily public appearances, those in attendance often wear T-shirts blaring a bold—yet unofficial—DeSantis 2024 logo. That’s despite the fact that the 43-year-old governor has said over and over that he’s not running for president. He filed in November to run for reelection for governor in 2022.
Other fans wear T-shirts in a wide range of designs, many bearing a likeness of him grinning, wearing superhero garb, holding a Constitution in his hands, or appearing in a droopy red hat as “DeSantis Claus.” Pro-DeSantis styles often feature the slogan “Make America Florida.”
Opponents turn their chests into billboards, too, insisting he’s “Killing Floridians with his Stupidity.”
Love him or hate him, DeSantis became one of America’s most recognizable governors in 2021, going toe-to-toe with President Joe Biden over what DeSantis calls “government overreach.” The White House didn’t respond to requests for comment.
Under DeSantis’s leadership, Florida has taken on a new moniker: The Freedom State.
By Nanette Holt