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President Trump greets Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis last September at West Palm Beach International Airport. Photo: Evan Vucci/AP

A year ago, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis was struggling to contain COVID, the state's economy was in tatters, and cases and deaths were rising.

  • Now his stature has risen as he heads into his reelection race next year — and he's a top-tier Republican for 2024 if former President Trump doesn't run, AP's Bobby Caina Calvan writes.

Why it matters: DeSantis remained defiant in the face of attacks on his hardline opposition to mask mandates and lockdowns.

  • "Hold the line. Don't back down," he told a crowd at a party fundraiser in Pittsburgh in May. "And in the state of Florida, with me as governor, I have only begun to fight."

The big picture: Earlier this month DeSantis signed an executive order ending all local COVID-19 emergency orders, effectively stopping the enforcement of restrictions across Florida.

  • Later in May he said he intends to pardon "any Floridian" facing "outstanding infractions" for violating COVID-19 guidances, such as mask mandates and social distancing.
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Go deeper

Updated Oct 19, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Vaccines: Mix-and-matching gains momentum — Boosters overtake first doses in U.S. — Pfizer to vaccinate Brazilian cityPanel endorses J&J booster.
  2. Health: Age is still a huge coronavirus risk factor — Unvaccinated 11x more likely to die from COVID — 5x more police officers died from COVID than guns.
  3. Politics: Over 30 states limited public health powers — Pope Francis calls on companies to release vaccine patents — Melbourne, "world's most locked-down city," to lift stay-at-home orders.
  4. Education: Education secretary reveals limits to Biden’s mask push on states — LA extends deadline for school employee vaccinations — Parent sues Wisconsin school district after child tests positive.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.

Scoop: Garland defends DOJ's handling of Jan. 6 probe

Attorney General Merrick Garland. Photo: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

Attorney General Merrick Garland will tell the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday that federal prosecutors "are doing exactly what they are expected to do" in seeking accountability for the "intolerable assault" on the Capitol on Jan. 6, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: Allies of former President Trump, including Republican congressmen, have criticized the department's treatment rioters charged with crimes, and sought to recast the insurrection as a righteous protest. Garland's testimony with be his first appearance before the panel.

Updated 32 mins ago - World

Police charge man with murder of British MP David Amess

Police outside Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea, England, on Oct. 15. Photo: John Keeble/Getty Images

Police said Thursday that Ali Harbi Ali, a 25-year-old British man, has been charged with the murder of David Amess, a Conservative Party lawmaker in the U.K.

The big picture: Last week, the Metropolitan Police declared the fatal stabbing a terrorist incident, saying that they had found "a potential motivation linked to Islamist extremism."