Florida governor and 2024 candidate Ron DeSantis continued his long-running rivalry with California governor Gavin Newsrom on Wednesday, claiming on Fox News that Californians are fleeing the state for Florida.
“For decades in this country, people have beaten a path to California. It’s a beautiful state, great topography, all kinds diversity in terms of the different communities you can live in, and yet they never lost population until their current governor took office,” Mr DeSantis said. “Now they’re hemorrhaging wealth, now they’re hemorrhaging people…I never saw California license plates [in Florida] until the last 4 years.”
Indeed, states like California and New York lost population in 2022, while Florida saw the biggest gains in in-migration, adding nearly 319,000 people, according to data from the National Association of Realtors. Experts attribute the changes to factors like the pandemic and taxes.
Mr DeSantis also claimed he witnessed shocking street crime during a recent visit to what he’s taken to calling the “once-great city” of San Francisco.
“I saw people defecating on the side walk. I saw people in an open-air drug market using fentanyl,” Mr DeSantis said.
In a campaign ad released on Tuesday, Mr DeSantis blamed vague “leftist policies,” including a supposed refusal to prosecute criminals, and “riff raff running around” for San Francisco’s “collapse.”
The remark was a likely reference to the false notion that progressive prosecutors in San Francisco refused to go after crime because they sometimes sought prison diversion programmes.
Analysis from Mission Local shows that prosecutors like the recalled Chesa Boudin filed about as many charges as any other prosecutor in the city since 2011, while city police data shows overall crime and larceny theft on a downward trend in the years before and during when Mr Boudin was in office.
In fact, violent crime rates have largely been declining in San Francisco since peaking in the 1990s, with the beginning of 2022 marking the lowest level of reported violent crime since 1985, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
According to data compiled by the CDC, Florida has a higher homicide rate per capita than California and a higher rate of drug overdose mortality.
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