"I think people try to paint people into a box, and because Senate Conservative Fund and Club for Growth support Ron DeSantis, people have this, you know, fire-breathing-guy" image of him, Fabrizio said. "But the truth of the matter is he is a Reagan conservative. He is truly a limited-government, lower-taxes, control-spending, strong-on-foreign-policy conservative that would appeal to a wide berth of the party."
When DeSantis declared his Senate ambitions in April, his core campaign team came from Jamestown Associates, a consulting firm that drew ire from fellow Republicans in 2014 for working against now-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in his primary, among other incumbents. The National Republican Senatorial Committee and other establishment players said they would blackball Jamestown.
But Fabrizio has joined that team to work with DeSantis, and together they are working strategically to challenge the idea that often-opposed ideological groups — like different consulting firms — can't work together after all. Sens. Tom Cotton and Dan Sullivan combined backing from all across the GOP in their 2014 campaigns. Now, with DeSantis, the conservative movement is pitching one of its candidates for establishment support.
"Some of the groups that have supported Congressman DeSantis were at odds with the Chamber in the past, but I can tell you that the Chamber likes Congressman DeSantis," Fabrizio told National Journal. "They didn't tell me to go to work for him; I made that decision myself. But it certainly does show that the groups can all come together for a common goal of electing a strong pro-business conservative."
The Chamber's senior political strategist, Scott Reed, confirmed to National Journal back in May that the group had a positive meeting with DeSantis. While the Chamber hasn't backed DeSantis in his safe-seat House races, it does have history with one of his primary opponents: Rep. David Jolly, who had the Chamber's help in his expensive 2014 special election. Jolly's supporters have also touted his Chamber ties.
Other obstacles lie in DeSantis's path too, in addition to his opponents. He is a more polished politician than some past, flameout Senate candidates, but multiple GOP strategists said DeSantis's conservative House voting record could become a toxic asset in a Florida general election. Specifically, DeSantis supported the 2013 government shutdown over Obamacare funding and the Republican Study Committee's conservative budget proposals — which liberals dubbed "the Ryan budget on steroids." (Meanwhile, Jolly was one of the few House Republicans who voted against the Ryan budget.) Among the proposals: raising the Social Security retirement age.
This particular budget goes much further than the official House Republican proposal in its changes to Medicare and Social Security, and some in the GOP fear that Democrats could use it to draw Florida's large senior population back toward them after years of Republican progress. That bloc is one of the most important in Florida politics.