Ron DeSantis Sparks Conflict with One of His Strongest Supporters | Vanity Fair

15 March 2024 3033
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Article by Caleb Ecarma

Ron DeSantis, the Republican governor of Florida who is now free from his presidential aspirations, has started accusing former allies. On a recent Wednesday, he turned his sights to the popular X account, Libs of TikTok, created by Chaya Raichik, an anti-LGBTQ+ media figure. DeSantis claimed the account lied for attention over a post that suggested Florida distributed driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants. "Libs of TikTok is misleading the public about Florida law, which not only prevents illegal aliens from obtaining driver's licenses but also doesn't acknowledge licenses issued to illegal aliens by other states," DeSantis wrote in an X post, adding that the truth should not become a casualty in the quest for clicks and engagement.

The response to DeSantis's criticism wasn't positive. Libs of TikTok reacted, "The Governor, whom I have only ever praised for his victories and never criticised, is now publicly branding me a liar and a swindler. Regardless of this personal attack, I still consider DeSantis a competent Governor and have stated this publicly."

Indeed, this friction represents a drastic shift from their bond, which was amicable just over a year ago. After Raichik's identity was revealed by The Washington Post in December 2022, she shared that an aide of DeSantis had offered her the opportunity to live indefinitely at his Tallahassee residence. Raichik, through her Libs of TikTok account, has become a symbolic figure in the cultural campaign against LGBTQ+ individuals and teachers that propelled DeSantis to the national stage. Christina Pushaw, a senior aide to DeSantis, commended Libs of TikTok for "truly opening my eyes" to the LGBTQ+ inclusive curriculum in schools, while Tucker Carlson, a past Fox News host, partly attributed Raichik for the execution of Florida’s Parental Rights in Education Act.

Since dropping out of the presidential race in January, DeSantis has been vocal about his grievances with Donald Trump's dominance over the conservative media. "Their business model falters if they level any criticism at Trump," DeSantis voiced in a private phone call with backers last month. He then cited Trump's infamous quote about shooting someone on Fifth Avenue and still retaining support.