In 2018, Florida governor Ron DeSantis proposed a sweeping overhaul of the state’s election system that included a plan to replace private campaign contributions with public financing. His plan was met with intense opposition from groups on both sides of the aisle.
The Democratic Party saw the plan as an attempt to favor Republican campaigns, as the public money allocated to state and county campaigns would be steered toward Republican strongholds. On the other hand, many Republicans argued that the plan went too far by moving away from the current system of private fundraising and could give Democrats an advantage in rural areas where Republicans held stronger support.
At the same time, the proposal was widely seen as an attempt to diminish the influence of special interests groups. This particularly impacted the state’s agricultural industry, which had relied heavily on generous contributions from corporations in the past.
In the end, DeSantis’ proposal failed to gain traction in the legislature and his plan was never implemented. The fight highlighted the difficult road ahead for Florida’s election reform efforts and once more demonstrated how difficult it can be to craft policy that is both politically palatable and effective.