Govs. Abbott and DeSantis, who clashed with Biden over migrant transports, easily win re-election

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who both clashed with the Biden administration by transporting migrants from their states into the interior of the country over the summer, won their re-election races convincingly on Tuesday night.

Both Republican governors saw their races called early in the evening as they handily fended off high-profile challenges from Charlie Crist in Florida and Beto O’Rourke in Texas. As of Wednesday morning, Abbott was beating O'Rourke by more than 10 percentage points with more than 98% of the votes reported; DeSantis was beating Crist by nearly 20 points with 99% reporting in.

"Thanks to the overwhelming support of the people of Florida, we not only won election, we have re-written the political map," DeSantis said in his victory speech. "Thank you for honoring us with a win for the ages."

While both men have been critics of the Biden administration’s handling of the ongoing crisis at the southern border, tactics escalated earlier this year when Abbott began sending buses of migrants to Washington, D.C.

His office later expanded the operation to send buses to New York City and Chicago. All three cities are "sanctuary" jurisdictions that forbid cooperation with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Abbott said the move was intended to relieve pressure on overwhelmed border communities as well as draw attention to the migrant crisis.

"Texas’ inundated border towns are now receiving a measure of relief, and importantly, the magnitude of this ongoing crisis is finally gaining the national attention it deserves," Abbott said in an op-ed in September. "Americans are now witnessing a startling national security failure that the President continues to dismiss."

As of this month, Texas says it has bussed almost 8,300 migrants to D.C., along with 3,500 to NYC and more than 1,000 to Chicago. The moves have sparked outrage from the cities themselves, who have declared emergencies and appealed for federal help. The Biden administration has also been highly critical, accusing Abbott of using migrants as political pawns.

That outrage was furthered when DeSantis flew migrants into the liberal enclave of Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, on two planes in September.

"States like Massachusetts, New York and California will better facilitate the care of these individuals who they have invited into our country by incentivizing illegal immigration through their designation as ‘sanctuary states’ and support for the Biden administration’s open border policies," a DeSantis spokesperson told Fox News Digital at the time.

The White House repeatedly hit back, accusing the governors of political stunts.

"These were children, they were moms, they were fleeing communism," White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in September. "And what did Gov. DeSantis and Gov. Abbott do to them? They used them as political pawns, treated them like cattle in a cruel, premeditated political stunt."

Biden himself also took aim at the governors.

"Instead of working with us on solutions, Republicans are playing politics with human beings, using them as props. What they’re doing is simply wrong. It’s un-American, it’s reckless, and we have a process in place to manage migrants at the border. We’re working to make sure it’s safe and orderly and humane. Republican officials should not interfere with that process by waging these political stunts," Biden said in a speech.

Both governors shrugged off the outrage from the administration and Democrats, saying that the anger should be aimed at the administration’s policies instead.

"So, when Biden is flying these people all over the fruited plain in the middle of the night, I didn't hear a peep out of those people," DeSantis said. "I haven't heard a peep about all the people that have been told by Biden [that migrants] can just come in — and they're going, they're being abused by the cartels. They're drowning in the Rio Grande. You had 50 that died in some shed in Texas. I heard no outrage about any of that."

There had been some speculation that the controversial tactics could backfire on both governors as they faced their re-election battles. But instead, both governors picked up striking victories.

Notably, DeSantis became the first Republican in two decades to win the typically Democratic Miami-Dade County.

The Fox News Voter Analysis survey had shown that majorities of voters in key states were dissatisfied by the Biden administration’s handling of border security ahead of the midterms.

Meanwhile in Texas, Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, who had been a vocal critic of the Biden administration’s handling of the border crisis, won re-election against a Republican challenger.

Also along the border, Republican Monica De La Cruz beat Democratic opponent Michelle Vallejo to fill the open 15th Texas Congressional seat.