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Ron DeSantis
Ron DeSantis (53454825868)(crop - tilted).jpg
DeSantis in 2024
46th Governor of Florida
Assumed office
January 8, 2019
Lieutenant Jeanette Nuñez
Preceded by Rick Scott
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Florida's 6th district
In office
January 3, 2013 – September 10, 2018
Preceded by Cliff Stearns (redistricting)
Succeeded by Michael Waltz
Personal details
Ronald Dion DeSantis

(1978-09-14) September 14, 1978 (age 45)
Jacksonville, Florida, U.S.
Political party Republican
Casey Black
(m. 2009)
Children 3
Residence Governor's Mansion
Military service
Branch/service United States Navy
Years of service 2004–2010 (active)
2010–2019 (reserve)
Rank Lieutenant commander
Unit Judge Advocate General's Corps
United States Navy Reserve
Battles/wars Iraq War
Awards Bronze Star
Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal
Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
Iraq Campaign Medal

Ronald Dion DeSantis ( born September 14, 1978) is an American politician serving since 2019 as the 46th governor of Florida. A member of the Republican Party, he represented FL's 6th congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives from 2013 to 2018. DeSantis was a candidate for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, but withdrew his candidacy in January 2024.

Born in Jacksonville, DeSantis spent most of his childhood in Dunedin, Florida. He graduated from Yale University and Harvard Law School. DeSantis joined the United States Navy in 2004 and was promoted to lieutenant before serving as a legal advisor to SEAL Team One. He was stationed at Joint Task Force Guantanamo in 2006, and was deployed to Iraq in 2007. When he returned to the U.S. about eight months later, the U.S. attorney general appointed DeSantis to serve as a special assistant U.S. attorney at the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Middle District of Florida, a position he held until his honorable discharge from active military duty in 2010.

DeSantis was first elected to Congress in 2012 and was reelected in 2014 and 2016. During his tenure, he became a founding member of the Freedom Caucus and was an ally of President Donald Trump. He briefly ran for U.S. Senate in 2016, but withdrew when incumbent senator Marco Rubio sought reelection. DeSantis won the Republican nomination for the 2018 gubernatorial election and narrowly defeated the Democratic Party nominee, Tallahassee mayor Andrew Gillum, in the general election by 0.4%.

DeSantis was governor during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as Hurricane Ian and Hurricane Nicole. He encouraged the passage of the Parental Rights in Education Act. In the 2022 gubernatorial election, he defeated Charlie Crist by 19.4 percentage points, the state's largest margin of victory for a governor's election in 40 years.

On May 24, 2023, DeSantis announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination for president of the United States, and he continued to serve as governor during the campaign. On January 21, 2024, DeSantis withdrew his candidacy, endorsing his primary opponent Trump.

He has written two books: Dreams From Our Founding Fathers was published before his first campaign for Congress in 2011, and The Courage to Be Free was published in 2023.

Early life and education

Ronald Dion DeSantis was born on September 14, 1978, in Jacksonville, Florida, to parents Karen DeSantis (née Rogers) and Ronald Daniel DeSantis. His middle name, Dion, extols the singer Dion DiMucci, and his family name has different pronunciations. His mother's family name, Rogers, was chosen by her grandfather upon immigrating from Italy. All of DeSantis's great-grandparents immigrated from Southern Italy during the first Italian diaspora. His parents and all of his grandparents were born and grew up in Western Pennsylvania and Northeast Ohio.

DeSantis's mother worked as a nurse and his father installed Nielsen TV-rating boxes. They met while attending Youngstown State University in Youngstown, Ohio, during the 1970s and moved to Jacksonville, Florida, during that decade. His family then moved to Orlando, Florida, before relocating when he was six years old to the city of Dunedin in Florida's Tampa Bay area. His only sibling, younger sister Christina, died in 2015 at age 30 from a pulmonary embolism. He was a member of the Dunedin National team that made it to the 1991 Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. DeSantis attended Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic School and Dunedin High School, graduating in 1997.

After high school, DeSantis studied history at Yale University. He was captain of Yale's varsity baseball team; he played outfield, and as a senior in 2001 he had the team's best batting average at .336. DeSantis was a member of the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity and of the St. Elmo Society, one of Yale's secret societies. While attending Yale, he worked a variety of jobs, including as an electrician's assistant and a coach at a baseball camp. DeSantis graduated from Yale in 2001 with a B.A., magna cum laude.

After Yale, DeSantis taught history and coached for a year at Darlington School in Georgia, then attended Harvard Law School, graduating in 2005 with a Juris Doctor, cum laude. At Harvard, he was business manager for the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy.

Military service

In 2004, during his second year at Harvard Law, DeSantis was commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Navy and assigned to the Navy Judge Advocate General's Corps (JAG). He completed Naval Justice School in 2005. Later that year, he reported to the JAG Trial Service Office Command South East at Naval Station Mayport, Florida, as a prosecutor. He was promoted from lieutenant, junior grade to lieutenant in 2006.

In the spring of 2006, DeSantis arrived at Joint Task Force Guantanamo (JTF-GTMO), working with detainees at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp. The publicly released records of his service in the Navy were redacted, with the Navy citing a personal-privacy exception to the Freedom of Information Act. Mansur Ahmad Saad al-Dayfi, who was held at Guantanamo, alleged in 2022 that DeSantis oversaw force-feeding detainees.

In 2007, DeSantis reported to the Naval Special Warfare Command Group in Coronado, California, where he was assigned as a legal adviser to SEAL Team One; he deployed to Iraq in the fall of 2007 as part of the troop surge. He served as legal adviser to Dane Thorleifson, the SEAL Commander of the Special Operations Task Force-West in Fallujah.

DeSantis returned to the U.S. in April 2008, reassigned to the Naval Region Southeast Legal Service. He was appointed to serve as a special assistant U.S. attorney at the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Middle District of Florida. DeSantis was assigned as a trial defense counsel until his honorable discharge from active duty in February 2010. He concurrently accepted a reserve commission as a lieutenant in the Judge Advocate General's Corps of the U.S. Navy Reserve.

During his military career, DeSantis was awarded the Bronze Star Medal, the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, and the Iraq Campaign Medal. His Navy Reserve service ended in February 2019, a month after his gubernatorial inauguration, with the rank of lieutenant commander.

Post-naval career

With two law-school friends, DeSantis founded an LSAT test-prep company, LSAT Freedom, that one of the other co-founders billed as "the only LSAT prep courses designed exclusively by Harvard Law School graduates". DeSantis also worked as a litigator at the Miami-based law firm Holland & Knight before running for Congress in 2012.

U.S. House of Representatives (2013–2018)

Ron DeSantis, Official Portrait, 113th Congress (cropped 2)
DeSantis's U.S. House of Representatives official portrait (c. 2013)


DeSantis defeated six candidates in the 2012 Republican primary for Florida's 6th congressional district, and defeated Democratic nominee Heather Beaven in the general election. He was reelected in 2014 and 2016.

In May 2015, DeSantis announced his candidacy for the 2016 United States Senate election in Florida. He ran for the seat held by Marco Rubio, who initially did not file to run for reelection due to his 2016 presidential campaign. DeSantis was endorsed by the Koch Brothers' fiscally conservative Club for Growth. When Rubio ended his presidential bid and ran for reelection to the Senate, DeSantis withdrew from the Senate race, instead running for reelection to the House.


Representative Ron DeSantis, Iran's Missile Program (17983165814)
DeSantis speaking at the Hudson Institute in June 2015

DeSantis signed a 2013 "No Climate Tax Pledge" against any tax hikes to fight global warming. He voted in favor of H.R. 45, which would have repealed the Affordable Care Act in 2013. DeSantis introduced a bill in 2014 that would have required the Justice Department to report to Congress whenever any federal agency refrained from enforcing laws. In 2015, DeSantis was a founding member of the Freedom Caucus, a group of congressional conservatives and libertarians.

DeSantis opposes gun control, and received an A+ rating from the National Rifle Association. He has said, "Very rarely do firearms restrictions affect criminals. They really only affect law-abiding citizens."

DeSantis was a critic of Obama's immigration policies, including deferred action legislation (DACA and DAPA), accusing Obama of failing to enforce immigration laws. In 2015 he co-sponsored Kate's Law, which would have increased penalties for aliens who unlawfully reenter the U.S. after being removed. DeSantis encouraged Florida sheriffs to cooperate with the federal government on immigration-related issues.

In 2016, DeSantis introduced the Higher Education Reform and Opportunity Act, which would have allowed states to create their own accreditation systems. He said this legislation would also give students "access to federal loan money to put towards non-traditional educational opportunities, such as online learning courses, vocational schools, and apprenticeships in skilled trades".

In 2016, DeSantis received a "0" rating from the Human Rights Campaign on LGBT-related legislation. Two years later, he told the Sun Sentinel that he "doesn't want any discrimination in Florida, I want people to be able to live their life, whether you're gay or whether you're religious."

DeSantis supports a constitutional amendment to impose term limits on members of Congress, so that U.S. representatives would be limited to three terms and senators to two. He served three terms in the House of Representatives, retiring in 2018 to run for governor of Florida.


During the 114th United States Congress, DeSantis served on the Committee on Oversight and Accountability, and chaired its Subcommittee on National Security. He also served on the Foreign Affairs Committee, Judiciary Committee, and the Republican Study Committee, along with several subcommittees of those.

Fiscal policy

DeSantis said that the debate over how to reduce the federal deficit should shift emphasis from tax increases to curtailing spending and triggering economic growth. He is a past supporter of replacing the federal income tax and the IRS with a federal sales tax called the FairTax, by cosponsoring legislation to do so as a U.S. representative. He supported a "no budget, no pay" policy for Congress to encourage passage of a budget resolution. DeSantis endorsed the REINS Act, which would have required that regulations significantly affecting the economy be subject to a vote of Congress before taking effect. He also supported auditing the Federal Reserve System.

Conservative think tank Citizens Against Government Waste named DeSantis a "Taxpayer Superhero" in 2015. For alleged IRS targeting of conservatives, DeSantis asked for IRS commissioner John Koskinen's resignation for having "failed the American people by frustrating Congress's attempts to ascertain the truth". He cosponsored a bill to impeach Koskinen for violating the public's trust. DeSantis criticized IRS employee Lois Lerner and asked that she testify to Congress.

In 2015, he introduced the Let Seniors Work Act, which would have repealed an incentive to retire instead of keep working and would have exempted senior citizens from the 12.4 percent Social Security payroll tax; he also cosponsored a measure to eliminate taxes on Social Security benefits. According to PolitiFact, it is "half true" that DeSantis voted to cut Social Security and Medicare and voted to increase the retirement age, because those votes were on non-binding resolutions that would not have become law even if passed, and because the objective was to stabilize those social programs to avoid steeper cuts later.

DeSantis sponsored the Transportation Empowerment Act, which would have transferred much of the responsibility for transportation projects to the states and sharply reduce the federal gas tax. He opposed legislation to require online retailers to collect and pay state sales tax. He voted for the 2017 Trump tax cuts.

DeSantis opted not to receive his congressional pension, and filed a measure that would eliminate pensions for members of Congress.

Gubernatorial campaigns

2018 candidacy

2018 Florida gubernatorial election results map by county
2018 election results map by county

On January 5, 2018, DeSantis filed to run for the office of governor to replace term-limited Republican incumbent Rick Scott.

On September 5, he announced state representative Jeanette Núñez as his running mate. He resigned his House seat on September 10 to focus on his gubernatorial campaign. The same month, he canceled a planned interview with the Tampa Bay Times to have additional time to put together a platform before an in-depth policy interview. On election night, initial results had DeSantis winning, and so Gillum conceded. Gillum rescinded his concession when the margin narrowed to 0.4 percent, and an automatic machine recount began with a November 15 deadline. Although three counties missed the deadline, it was not extended. DeSantis was confirmed as the winner and Gillum conceded on November 17.

2022 candidacy

2022 Florida gubernatorial election results map by county
2022 election results map by county

In September 2021, DeSantis announced he would run for reelection. On November 7, he filed the necessary paperwork to officially enter the race. In the general election, he faced Democratic nominee Charlie Crist, a U.S. representative and former Florida governor. Crist heavily criticized DeSantis's decision to transport illegal immigrants to Democratic states, arguing that it was human rights abuse. During an interview with Bret Baier on Fox News, Crist called DeSantis "one of the biggest threats to democracy".

The gubernatorial debate was held on October 23, and the candidates exchanged attacks. At one point, Crist asked DeSantis whether he would serve a full four-year term, in relation to talk about a potential DeSantis campaign for president in 2024. DeSantis responded, "the only worn-out old donkey I'm looking to put out to pastures is Charlie Crist". On the campaign trail DeSantis criticized Crist's role as a U.S. representative, and at the debate said that Crist showed up for work for only 14 days during 2022.

DeSantis won the November 8 election in a landslide, with 59.4 percent of the vote to Crist's 40 percent; it was the largest margin of victory in a Florida gubernatorial election since 1982. Significantly, DeSantis won Miami-Dade County, which had been a Democratic stronghold since 2002, and Palm Beach County, which had not voted Republican since 1986. Crist conceded the election shortly after DeSantis was projected as the winner. At DeSantis's victory rally, supporters chanted "two more years" at various times rather than the common "four more years" to show support for DeSantis for president in 2024.

Governor of Florida (2019–present)

The Florida Cabinet
DeSantis with Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody, Chief Finance Officer Jimmy Patronis, and Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried in 2019

DeSantis became governor of Florida on January 8, 2019. He has generally governed as a conservative. During his tenure, the Republican-dominated Florida Legislature enacted much of DeSantis's legislative agenda, often on rapid timelines. Maximizing the power of the governor's office, DeSantis exerted pressure on Republican legislative leaders.


Taxation and budget

During his 2018 gubernatorial campaign, DeSantis pledged to lower corporate income taxes to 5 percent or lower. During his tenure, corporate income taxes in Florida got as low as 3.5 percent in 2021, but by 2022 they had increased to 5.5 percent. DeSantis has maintained Florida's low-tax status during his time as governor. In June 2019, DeSantis signed a $91.1 billion budget the legislature passed the previous month, which was the largest in state history at the time, though he cut $131 million in appropriations. In June 2021, he signed a $101.5 billion budget; he used his line-item veto to veto $1.5 billion (of which $1 billion was in federal American Rescue Plan Act money for an emergency response fund). The budget DeSantis signed was more than $9 billion higher than Florida's current state spending plan.

On November 22, 2021, because of a significant increase in gasoline prices, DeSantis announced that he would temporarily waive Florida's gasoline tax in the next legislative session, in 2022. Florida had a record state budget surplus in 2023.

Unemployment insurance and retirement age

In 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic, DeSantis blamed former governor Rick Scott for "revamping the state's unemployment insurance system with pointless roadblocks that he said were designed to prevent people from claiming benefits", claiming it created massive backlogs earlier in the year as the pandemic decimated the economy. Afterward, Florida's economy swiftly started recovering, and the unemployment rate fell below 7 percent by the latter half of 2020. In December 2020, DeSantis ordered the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity to extend unemployment waivers until February 27, 2021.

In 2012 and 2012, while in Congress, DeSantis supported proposals to raise the retirement age (i.e., the age to qualify for Medicare and Social Security) to 70 and to privatize Medicare, turning it into a "premium support" system. While running for president in 2023, DeSantis reversed his position, saying, "we’re not going to mess with Social Security."


In June 2021, DeSantis led an effort to ban the teaching of critical race theory in Florida public schools (though it had not been part of Florida's public school curriculum). He described critical race theory as "teaching kids to hate their country", mirroring a similar push by conservatives nationally. The Florida Board of Education approved the ban on June 10. The Florida Education Association criticized the ban, accusing the board of trying to hide facts from students. Other critics said the ban was an effort to "politicize classroom education and whitewash American history".

On September 14, 2021, DeSantis announced that Florida would replace the Florida Standards Assessment (FSA) test with a system of three smaller tests throughout the school year, in the fall, winter and spring. The new system was implemented in the 2022–23 school year.

On December 15, 2021, DeSantis announced a new bill, the Stop Wrongs to Our Kids and Employees Act ("Stop WOKE Act"), which would allow parents to sue school districts that teach critical race theory. He framed the bill as a bill to combat "woke indoctrination" that would "teach our kids to hate our country or hate each other." On August 18, 2022, federal judge Mark E. Walker blocked enforcement of the act as applied to businesses, ruling that it violated the First Amendment and was impermissibly vague. Walker later blocked enforcement of the act as applied to public universities for similar reasons, writing that the legislation is "positively dystopian" because it "officially bans professors from expressing disfavored viewpoints in university classrooms while permitting unfettered expression of the opposite viewpoints."

Election law and voting rights

DeSantis expressed support for the Voting Rights Restoration for Felons Initiative after it passed in November 2018, saying he was "obligated to faithfully implement [it] as it is defined" when he became governor. After he refused to restore voting rights for felons with unpaid fines, which voting rights groups said was inconsistent with the referendum's results, he was challenged in court. The Florida Supreme Court sided with DeSantis on the issue, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit also sided with DeSantis in a 6–4 ruling.

In April 2019, DeSantis directed Florida's elections chief to expand the availability of Spanish-language ballots and Spanish assistance for voters. In a statement, DeSantis said, "It is critically important that Spanish-speaking Floridians are able to exercise their right to vote without any language barriers."

In June 2019, DeSantis signed a measure that would make it harder to launch successful ballot initiatives. Petition-gathering for ballot initiatives to legalize increases to the minimum wage, and expansion of Medicaid were also under way.

In February 2021, DeSantis announced his support for eliminating ballot drop boxes and limiting voting by mail by requiring that voters re-register every year to vote by mail and that signatures on mail-in ballots "match the most recent signature on file" (rather than any of the voter's signatures in the Florida system). The changes to mail-in voting were notable given that Republicans had historically voted by mail more than Democrats, but Democrats outvoted Republicans by mail in 2020. According to a Tampa Bay Times analysis, DeSantis's signature match proposal could have led to rejections of his own mail-in ballots due to changes in his signature history over time; voting rights experts argued that the signature matching proposal could be used to disenfranchise voters whose signatures varied over time.

Tech platforms

On February 2, 2021, DeSantis announced support for legislation to hold tech companies accountable to prevent alleged political censorship. In response to social media networks removing Trump from their platforms, DeSantis and other Florida Republicans pushed legislation in the Florida legislature to prohibit tech companies from de-platforming political candidates. A federal judge blocked the law by preliminary injunction the day before it was to take effect, on the grounds that it violated the First Amendment and federal law. When Twitter suspended DeSantis administration critic Rebekah Jones's account for violating rules against spam and platform manipulation, DeSantis's office applauded the decision, calling it "long overdue". DeSantis supported Elon Musk's acquisition of Twitter, believing "it illegal for tech platforms to block or demote content that might otherwise run afoul of their terms of service".

Policing and law enforcement

DeSantis SI
DeSantis at a pro-law enforcement rally in Staten Island

DeSantis opposes efforts to defund the police, and as governor has introduced initiatives to "fund the police". In September 2021, he introduced a $5,000 signing bonus for Florida police officers in a bid to attract out-of-state police recruits.

In April 2021, DeSantis signed into law the Combating Public Disorder Act he had been advocating. Aside from being an anti-riot statute, it forbade intimidation by mobs; penalized damage to historic properties or memorials, such as downtown Miami's Christopher Columbus statue, which was damaged in 2020; and forbade publishing personal identifying information online with intent to harm. DeSantis had argued for this legislation by citing the George Floyd protests of 2020 and the 2021 United States Capitol attack, although only the former was mentioned at the signing ceremony. Several months after the signing, a federal judge blocked the portion of the law that introduced a new definition of "riot", calling it too vague.

On May 5, 2021, DeSantis announced that all Florida police officers, firefighters, and paramedics would receive a $1,000 bonus.

On December 2, 2021, DeSantis announced that as part of a $100 million funding proposal for the Florida National Guard, $3.5 million would be allocated to the reactivation of the Florida State Guard, a volunteer state defense force that had been inactive since 1947.

Immigration and refugees

In June 2019, DeSantis signed an anti-"sanctuary city" bill into law. Florida had no sanctuary cities before the law's enactment, and immigration advocates called the bill politically motivated.

Florida became the 12th state to adopt legislation requiring local governments to aid federal immigration-enforcement efforts. In June 2020, DeSantis signed a bill requiring government employers and contractors to use E-Verify. He had originally called for all employers to be required to use it. A few years later, he signed into law an expansion of E-Verify and other immigration laws.

In 2021, DeSantis halted cooperation with the Biden administration's program to relocate and resettle migrants in Florida in the wake of a surge in illegal immigration. DeSantis's administration also allocated $12 million for relocating migrants to other states.

In September 2022, after similar actions by Texas Governor Greg Abbott, an agent of DeSantis recruited 50 newly arrived asylum seekers, mostly from Venezuela, in San Antonio, Texas, and flew them via two chartered planes to the Crestview, Florida airport, where they did not debark, then proceeded to Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts. The migrants filed a class-action suit against DeSantis, calling his treatment of them "extreme and outrageous, and utterly intolerable in a civilized community".

In May 2023, DeSantis announced plans to send over 1,000 personnel to Texas, including National Guard troops, to help Texas stem the influx of illegal immigration across the southern border.


DeSantis supported programs dedicated to environmental conservation and protection from flooding in Florida. At the same time, he questioned climate science, supported fossil fuels, opposed renewables, and sanctioned firms for considering environmental issues in their investments.

The Inflation Reduction Act and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act gave Florida $3.75 million for urban forests and nature, $209,000 for fighting pollution, and $78.7 million to protect the state from climate change impacts.

However, DeSantis refused to accept $346 million from the Inflation Reduction Act for rebates to homeowners who want to retrofit their houses, make it more energy efficient, $3 million to fight pollution, and a program to help low-income people buy solar panels, as well as $24 million from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act for improving sewage systems in rural areas. The rebates were requested by Florida energy office and the legislature, but DeSantis vetoed them. All other governors, including Republicans, accepted the money. The money can go to local cities and authorities, and three Florida cities received some funds. Rhode Island and Kentucky have requested to take Florida's money for themselves. The program should help people lower their energy bills and weatherize their houses while creating jobs. Half the money should go to low-income households. Making a house more energy-efficient can cut utility bills by 25% for an average family.

2024 presidential campaign

Campaign logo for DeSantis

On May 24, 2023, DeSantis announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination for president of the United States, and he continued to serve as governor during the campaign. On January 21, 2024, DeSantis withdrew his candidacy, endorsing his primary opponent Trump.

Personal life

Ron DeSantis and Casey DeSantis
Ron and Casey DeSantis in January 2019

DeSantis met his wife, Casey Black, on a golf course at the University of North Florida. She had been a television host for the Golf Channel, and then a television journalist and news anchor at WJXT. They married on September 26, 2009, in a chapel at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa. DeSantis is Catholic, as was his wedding ceremony.

The couple lived in Ponte Vedra Beach, near St. Augustine, until it was drawn into the neighboring 4th congressional district. They then moved to Palm Coast, north of Daytona Beach, which remained in the district he represented: the 6th. They have three children.

He is a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion. In 2022, DeSantis appeared on Time 100, Time's annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world. As of September 2023, his net worth was estimated at around $1.5 million, up from $300,000 in 2021; his "lucrative book deal" in 2022 made him a millionaire by the end of that year.

See also

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