The Republican candidate for president in 2024, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, has gained national attention for his aggressive style of cultural conservatism. The former navy officer with Ivy League training has received praise from many on the right as a political rock star and scorn from the left as a right-wing extreme.
But to win the presidency, he must first defeat Donald Trump, his former political mentor, and a wide field of other Republican contenders. Mr. DeSantis, who is 44 years old and was first elected to the House of Representatives in 2012, is still relatively fresh to US politics.
After a brief run for the Senate in 2018, he was chosen governor just six years later. Born in 1978 in Jacksonville, Florida, Mr. DeSantis later studied history at Yale University, where he captained the baseball team, before transferring to Harvard Law School shortly after.
He joined the US Navy as an officer during his second year at Harvard and was given a position with its legal division, the Judge Advocate General’s (JAG) Corps. He worked with inmates at Guantanamo Bay and served as a legal advisor to the elite US Navy Seals deployed to Iraq during his time as a JAG officer.
Despite his continued participation in the US Navy reserve, Mr. DeSantis received an honorable discharge from the military in 2010. Around this period, he met his wife, Casey, a local TV news reporter who helped organize fundraising efforts following Hurricane Ian in 2022.
Mr. DeSantis became a federal prosecutor after leaving active duty. Then, in 2012, he decided to run for a position in Florida’s Sixth Congressional District, known for being among the most conservative in the state.
Mr. DeSantis ran his campaign for governor of Florida mainly on a platform of “small government” and lower taxes, as well as an apparent hostility to the Obama administration. He condemned the government’s tendency to intervene on “virtually any issue, from the waistline of children to the earth’s temperature.”
“My mission was largely to stop Barack Obama,” he recalled in a speech last year at a conservative conference in Texas. “Those were good fights. Important fights.”
In 2018, Mr. DeSantis announced his desire to run for governor with the full support of then-President Donald Trump, five years after beginning his career on Capitol Hill, where he helped form the “Freedom Caucus” of hard-right conservatives. In January 2019, Mr. DeSantis was sworn in as governor.
DeSantis as Governor
Early in his term as governor, Mr. DeSantis won praise nationwide for handling COVID-19 in Florida. Hehe imposed a state-wide lockdown early in the pandemic but soon started removing the restrictions. He commanded schools to be reopened in July 2020 as the number of cases exploded nationwide.
Since then, he has also expanded gun rights and the deἀth penalty, harshly clamped down on illegal immigration, and signed a bill banning most abortions after six weeks, vowing to “defend the dignity of human life and transform Florida into a pro-family state.”
He has been engaged in a protracted legal dispute and argument with Disney, which opposed the “Don’t Say Gay” law. The special district that had been established more than 50 years before supervised the development of the area surrounding Disney World, which includes four theme parks, dozens of hotels, and entertainment venues, was subsequently reorganized by Florida voters.
The actions took away that power from landowners in the 25,000-acre area, of which Disney is the largest, and gave Mr. DeSantis the ability to nominate members to the governing board. His standing as a future Republican presidential contender has increased as a result of all these actions, according to voters.
Mr. Trump, the erstwhile political mentor of Mr. DeSantis who has regularly claimed credit for the governor’s victory in the 2018 election, has increasingly criticized the governor’s growing national stature.
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Along with criticizing some of Mr. DeSantis’ plans, Mr. Trump has gotten increasingly abusive, accusing him of wanting to “destroy” Social Security and the government-run Medicare healthcare program for seniors.
According to recent polls, Mr. DeSantis continues to fall short of the former president regarding support among US Republicans. He is between 28 and 45 percentage points behind, according to several mid-May 2023 polling.
Mr. DeSantis has ignored the difficulties and tried to present himself as the Republican with the best chance of returning the party to the White House. See a tweet posted by Ron DeSantis’s official account.
In Florida, it is now a felony to commit violence against a K9 officer.
Our K9s work hard to protect our communities and we will exact swift justice against those who perpetrate violence against them. pic.twitter.com/kJibRn098N
— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) May 23, 2023
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