Ron DeSantis

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Ron DeSantis
Ron DeSantis, Official Portrait, 113th Congress.jpg
Governor of Florida
Assuming office
January 8, 2019
LieutenantJeanette Núñez (elect)
SucceedingRick Scott
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Florida's 6th district
In office
January 3, 2013 – September 10, 2018
Preceded byCliff Stearns
Succeeded byMichael Waltz (elect)
Personal details
Ronald Dion DeSantis

(1978-09-14) September 14, 1978 (age 40)
Jacksonville, Florida, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Casey Black (m. 2010)
EducationYale University (BA)
Harvard University (JD)
Military service
Allegiance United States
Service/branch United States Navy
Years of service2004–2010 (Active)
2010–present (Reserve)
RankUS-O4 insignia.svg Lieutenant Commander
UnitJudge Advocate General's Corps
Battles/warsIraq War
AwardsBronze Star
Iraq Campaign Medal

Ronald Dion DeSantis (born September 14, 1978) is an American politician who is the Governor-elect of Florida and is a former U.S. Representative for Florida's 6th congressional district. After graduating from Yale University and Harvard Law School, DeSantis served as an officer and attorney in the Judge Advocate General's Corps, U.S. Navy (JAG). A Republican, he was first elected to the House of Representatives in 2012.

DeSantis ran in Florida's 2016 U.S. Senate election, but ended his campaign when incumbent Senator Marco Rubio announced that he would seek re-election.[1][2] DeSantis then opted to run for re-election to his U.S. House seat and was re-elected in November 2016.[3] Described as a "top Trump ally", DeSantis drew increased attention in 2017 for his frequent criticisms of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, urging Trump to shut down or significantly limit said investigation.[4]

On August 28, 2018, DeSantis won the Republican primary for Governor of Florida. On September 10, 2018, DeSantis resigned from his seat in the House of Representatives to focus on his gubernatorial campaign. DeSantis was officially certified as the winner on November 20, 2018, following a machine recount, defeating Democratic nominee and Mayor of Tallahassee Andrew Gillum.

Early life and education[edit]

Ronald Dion DeSantis was born on September 14, 1978, in Jacksonville, Florida, the son of Karen (Rogers) and Ronald DeSantis.[5] In 1991 he was a member of the Little League team from Dunedin National that went on from the regular season to the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.[6][7]

After graduating in 1997 from Dunedin High School in Dunedin, Florida, DeSantis attended Yale University, graduating with a B.A. in history in 2001. He then attended Harvard Law School, receiving his J.D. in 2005.[8]

Military service[edit]

DeSantis received his Reserve Naval officer's commission and assignment to Judge Advocate General's Corps (JAG) in 2004 at the U.S. Naval Reserve Center in Dallas, Texas while still a student at Harvard Law School. He completed U.S. Naval Justice School in 2005. Later that year, he received orders from Trial Service Office Command South East at the Naval Station Mayport, Florida, as a JAG prosecutor. In 2006, he was promoted from Lieutenant Junior Grade (LTJG) to Lieutenant (LT). He worked for the Joint Task Force-Guantanamo Commander (JTF-GTMO), working directly with detainees at the Guantanamo Bay Joint Detention Facility.[9][dead link][10][11]

In 2007, DeSantis reported to the Naval Special Warfare Command Group in Coronado, California, where he was assigned to SEAL Team One and deployed to Iraq[12] with the troop surge as the Legal Advisor to the SEAL Commander, Special Operations Task Force-West in Fallujah.[9][dead link][10][11]

He returned to the United States in April 2008, at which time he was reassigned to the Naval Region Southeast Legal Service. He was appointed by the U.S. Department of Justice to serve as a federal prosecutor[12] 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, Judge Advocate General Corps, in the US Navy Reserve.[13] He was awarded the Bronze Star Medal and the Iraq Campaign Medal.[9][dead link][10][11]


He authored a book entitled Dreams From Our Founding Fathers: First Principles in the Age of Obama, which was published in 2011.[13] His writing has appeared in National Review, The Washington Times, The American Spectator, Human Events, and American Thinker.[13]

U.S. House of Representatives[edit]

2012 election[edit]

DeSantis won the six-candidate Republican primary with 39% of the vote, with the runner-up, State Representative Fred Costello, obtaining 23%.[14] In the November general election, DeSantis defeated Democrat Heather Beaven by 57–43%, with majorities in all four counties.[15]

Committee assignments[edit]

Prior to the 114th United States Congress, DeSantis was named the Chairman of the Subcommittee on National Security.[16]


On January 29, 2014, DeSantis introduced into the House the Faithful Execution of the Law Act of 2014 (H.R. 3973; 113th Congress), a bill that would direct the United States Department of Justice to report to the United States Congress whenever any federal agency refrains from enforcing laws or regulations for any reason.[18][19] In the report, the government would have to explain why it had decided not to enforce that law.[20]

DeSantis spoke in favor of the bill, arguing that "President Obama has not only failed to uphold several of our nation's laws, he has vowed to continue to do so in order to enact his unpopular agenda. ... The American people deserve to know exactly which laws the Obama administration is refusing to enforce and why."[20]

In 2013, DeSantis signed a pledge sponsored by Americans for Prosperity promising to vote against any global warming legislation that would raise taxes.[21]

On August 24, 2017, DeSantis added a rider to the proposed fiscal 2018 spending bill package that would end funding for the 2017 Special Counsel investigation "or for the investigation under that order of matters occurring before June 2015" (the month Trump announced he was running for president) 180 days after passage of the bill.[22]

The amendment would counter a bipartisan bill authored by two Democratic and two Republican U.S. Senators that was meant to limit the president's power to fire the special counsel. The DeSantis amendment would potentially cut off funding for the investigation by November 2017. It was also a response to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein's statement that the DOJ, "doesn't conduct fishing expeditions."[23] DeSantis stated that the May 17, 2017 DOJ order "didn't identify a crime to be investigated and practically invites a fishing expedition."[24]

He is a founding member of the Freedom Caucus, a group of congressional conservatives.[25][26][11]

2016 U.S. Senate candidacy[edit]

On May 6, 2015, DeSantis announced that he was running for the United States Senate seat held by Marco Rubio, who initially did not file to run for re-election due to his bid for the U.S. presidency.[27] He was endorsed by the fiscally conservative Club for Growth.[28]

2018 gubernatorial candidacy[edit]

In January 2018, DeSantis announced his candidacy for Governor of Florida to succeed term-limited Republican incumbent Rick Scott. President Donald Trump stated in December 2017 that he would support DeSantis should he run for Governor.[29] During the Republican primary, DeSantis emphasized his support for Trump by running an ad where DeSantis taught his children how to "build the wall" and say "Make America Great Again" and by dressing one of his children in a tiny red "Make America Great Again" jumper.[30] Asked if he could name an issue where he disagreed with Trump, DeSantis did not name a single issue.[31] On July 30, 2018, Jonathan Martin of The New York Times wrote that the support DeSantis's primary campaign had received demonstrated both Trump's kingmaking capacity in a Republican-trending state but also a "broader nationalization of conservative politics" wherein "a willingness to hurl rhetorical lightning bolts at the left, the media and special counsel Robert S. Mueller can override local credentials, local endorsements and preparedness for a state-based job."[31]

On August 28, 2018, DeSantis won the Republican primary. His Democratic opponent in the general election was Andrew Gillum.[32] The race was "widely seen as a toss-up."[33]

In September 2018, DeSantis announced state Rep. Jeanette Núñez as his running mate.[34] He resigned his seat in the U.S. House of Representatives on September 10, 2018, to focus on his gubernatorial candidacy.[35] That same month, DeSantis was criticized for not having a fully formed policy platform for his gubernatorial campaign.[36] He cancelled a planned interview with the Tampa Bay Times to have additional time to put together a platform before an in-depth policy interview.[36]


DeSantis's gubernatorial platform includes support for legislation that would allow persons with concealed weapons permits to carry firearms openly.[37] He also supports a law mandating the use of E-verify by businesses and a state-level ban on "sanctuary-city" protections for undocumented immigrants.[37] DeSantis has promised to stop the spread of polluted water from Lake Okeechobee.[37] DeSantis has also expressed support for a state constitutional amendment to require a supermajority vote for any tax increases.[38] He opposes allowing able-bodied, childless adults to receive Medicaid.[38] DeSantis has stated that he would implement a medical marijuana program, but opposes the legalization of recreational marijuana.[38][39][40]

"Monkey this up" controversy[edit]

On August 29, 2018, DeSantis came under criticism for comments that were allegedly racially charged. DeSantis said: "The last thing we need to do is to monkey this up by trying to embrace a socialist agenda with huge tax increases and bankrupting the state. That is not going to work. That's not going to be good for Florida."[41] DeSantis was accused of using the verb "monkey" as a racist dog whistle; his opponent, Gillum, is African-American.[42] Amid the controversy over DeSantis' comments, The Washington Post and the Naples Daily News reported that DeSantis had on four occasions appeared at racially charged conferences at the David Horowitz Freedom Center that featured various right-wing provocateurs as speakers.[43][44] DeSantis has stated that his comment had "zero to do with race."[45]

Political positions[edit]

DeSantis speaking at the Hudson Institute

DeSantis is a staunch conservative.[46][47][48] DeSantis was endorsed by the socially conservative Family Research Council Action PAC in 2015.[49]


DeSantis supports the implementation of a medical marijuana program in Florida, but opposes the legalization of recreational marijuana.[38][39][40][50] He voted against the Veterans Equal Access Amendment that would give veterans access to medical marijuana if recommended by their Veterans Health Administration doctor and if it is legal for medicinal purposes in their state of residence.[51]

Contraceptives and abortion[edit]

DeSantis opposes abortion[52] and has denounced Planned Parenthood.[53]

DeSantis agreed with the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., saying "This case does not concern the availability or legality of contraceptives, and individuals can obtain and use these as they see fit. The question is simply whether the government can force the owners of Hobby Lobby to pay for abortifacients in violation of their faith."[54]


DeSantis has said that the debate in Washington, D.C. over how to reduce the deficit should shift emphasis from tax increases to curtailing spending and triggering economic growth.[55] He supports a "no budget no pay" policy for Congress to encourage the passage of a budget.[56] He believes the Federal Reserve System should be audited.[57]

In the wake of the alleged IRS targeting controversy, DeSantis called for the resignation of Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen for having "failed the American people by frustrating Congress's attempts to ascertain the truth."[58][59] He co-sponsored a bill to impeach Koskinen for violating the public's trust.[60] In 2015, DeSantis was named "Taxpayer Superhero" by Citizens Against Government Waste, a conservative think-tank.[61]

DeSantis supported the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act, which would require that regulations that have a significant economic impact be subject to a vote of Congress prior to taking effect.[62]

DeSantis introduced the Let Seniors Work Act, which would repeal the Retirement Earnings Test and exempt senior citizens from the 12.4% Social Security payroll tax, and he co-sponsored a measure to eliminate taxes on Social Security benefits.[63]

DeSantis sponsored the Transportation Empowerment Act, which would transfer much of the responsibility for transportation projects to the individual states and sharply reduce the federal gas tax.[64][65]

DeSantis has opposed legislation to require online retailers to collect and pay state sales tax.[66]

He voted in favor of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.[67] DeSantis says the bill will bring a "dramatically lower tax rate" and "full expensing of capital investments." DeSantis also believes the act will bring more jobs to America.[68]


DeSantis opposes federal education programs such as No Child Left Behind Act and Race to the Top, saying that education policy should be made at the local level.[57]

In 2016, DeSantis introduced the Higher Education Reform and Opportunity Act, which would allow states to create their own accreditation systems. In an op-ed for the National Review, DeSantis said that his legislation would 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."[69]

Foreign relations[edit]


In 2015, DeSantis introduced the Guantanamo Bay Recidivism Prevention Act, which would cut off foreign aid to countries that receive detainees if they show back up on the terrorism recidivism list.[70]

DeSantis opposed President Obama's plan to shut down the Guantanamo Bay detention camp, saying "Bringing hardened terrorists to the U.S. homeland harms our national security."[71]

Regarding the formal restart of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba, DeSantis said "Raising the Cuban flag in the United States is a slap in the face to those who have experienced the brutality of the Castro regime."[72]


DeSantis opposed the Iran nuclear deal framework, calling it "a bad deal that will significantly degrade our national security."[73] DeSantis said "the Iran deal gives Ayatollah Khamenei exactly what he wants: billions of dollars in sanctions relief, validation of the Iranian nuclear program, and the ability to stymie inspections."[74]

During a line of questioning, DeSantis told Secretary of State John Kerry that the executive branch had a legal obligation to provide Congress with the details behind any side deals made between world leaders and Iran.[75] DeSantis accused President Barack Obama of giving better treatment of Cuba's Raul Castro and Iran's Ayatollah Ali Khamenei than of Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu.[76]


In 2013, DeSantis introduced the Palestinian Accountability Act, which would halt U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority until it formally recognizes Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state and cuts off all ties with the militant group Hamas.[77]

In 2016, DeSantis co-introduced the Non-Discrimination of Israel in Labeling Act, which will defend the right of Israeli producers to label products manufactured in the West Bank as "Israel", "Made in Israel", or "Product of Israel".[78] DeSantis supported the move of the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.[79]


DeSantis opted not to receive his congressional pension, and he filed a measure that would eliminate pensions for members of Congress.[57] After introducing the End Pensions in Congress Act, DeSantis said "The Founding Fathers envisioned elected officials as part of a servant class, yet Washington has evolved into a ruling class culture."[80]

DeSantis supports a constitutional amendment to impose term limits for members of Congress, so that Representatives would be limited to three terms and senators to two terms.[81]

Gun law[edit]

DeSantis opposes gun control. He received an A+ rating from the National Rifle Association.[82] He is generally opposed to firearm regulation, saying, "Very rarely do firearms restrictions affect criminals. They really only affect law-abiding citizens."[83]

Following the 2018 Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida, DeSantis expressed his support for hiring retired law enforcement officers and military veterans as armed guards for schools.[84] He disagrees with legislation signed into law by Florida Governor Rick Scott that banned bump stocks, added a mandatory three-day waiting period for gun purchases, and raised the legal age for purchases from 18 to 21.[10] He has expressed support for measures to improve federal background checks for purchasing firearms and has said that there is a need to intervene with those who are exhibiting warning signs of committing violence instead of waiting until a crime has been committed.[84]


DeSantis is opposed to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.[85][86] He has called for the "full and complete repeal" of the act.[85]

In March 2017, DeSantis said that he wasn't ready to support the American Health Care Act, the House Republican effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.[87] He did vote for the May 2017 Republican effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.[88][89]


DeSantis was a critic of President Obama's immigration policies; he opposed Obama's deferred action programs (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA) and accused him of failing to enforce immigration laws.[90][91] DeSantis opposes "sanctuary cities."[92] He is a co-sponsor of the Establishing Mandatory Minimums for Illegal Reentry Act of 2015, also known as Kate's Law, which would amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to increase penalties applicable to aliens who unlawfully reenter the United States after being removed.[93] In 2017, Desantis spoke at ACT! for America, an anti-Muslim advocacy group.[94]

After the November 2015 Paris attacks, DeSantis "called for urgent recognition that Islamic extremism is to blame for the Paris attacks and should be seen as an enemy for America." DeSantis has said "The enemy is an ideology rooted in militant Islam" and has said that ISIS must be stopped and its members kept away from America.[95] Regarding U.S. policy toward refugees, DeSantis said "the prudent policy is to err on the side of protecting the American people".[96]

LGBT rights[edit]

DeSantis has a "0" rating from the Human Rights Campaign based on his record of voting on LGBT-related issues and legislation.[97]

Russia investigation[edit]

According to the Tampa Bay Times, DeSantis "made a name for himself [in 2017] attacking special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election."[98]

DeSantis proposed an amendment that would halt funding for Mueller's 2017 Special Counsel investigation probe six months after the amendment's passage.[99] In addition, this provision would prohibit Mueller from investigating matters that occurred before June 2015, when Trump launched his presidential campaign.[100] In December 2017, DeSantis asserted that if there was any evidence of collusion between members of the Trump campaign and Russian officials, it would already have been leaked.[101]

In January 2018, while on the House Intelligence Committee, DeSantis voted on party lines to release a classified memo authored by Republicans on the committee which purported to show that the FBI abused its surveillance powers in the Russia investigation.[102] DeSantis voted not to release a memo authored by Democrats on the committee which accused the Republicans on the committee of playing politics with national security.[102] Democrats described the Republican-authored memo as grossly distorted and intended to discredit the Mueller Special Counsel investigation, and said that the Republicans on the committee had begun an investigation into the FBI and DOJ.[102]

In April 2018, DeSantis called on FBI Director Christopher Wray to criminally investigate a number of officials involved in investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election, including former FBI Director James Comey, former Acting Director of the FBI Andrew McCabe, FBI Agent Peter Strzok and FBI Counsel Lisa Page.[103] DeSantis also called for investigations of a number of former Obama officials, including Loretta Lynch and Hillary Clinton.[104]


DeSantis has sharply criticized the United States Department of Veterans Affairs for the Veterans Health Administration scandal of 2014, in which veteran deaths were linked to wait times. He co-sponsored the VA Accountability Act, which aims to increase accountability by providing for the removal or demotion of employees of the Department of Veterans Affairs based on performance or misconduct.[105][106] He is a member of the Post-9/11 Veterans Caucus.[107]

Voting rights[edit]

As of August 2018, DeSantis had not taken a position on a November 2018 ballot initiative on the restoration of voting rights for felons.[108][109]

Personal life[edit]

DeSantis is a Roman Catholic[110] and of Italian descent. In 2010, he married Casey Black. They lived in Ponte Vedra Beach, near St. Augustine until Ponte Vedra Beach was drawn into the neighboring 4th District. DeSantis and his wife then moved to Palm Coast, north of Daytona Beach.[111][112] DeSantis and his wife have a daughter, Madison,[9][dead link] and a son, Mason.


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External links[edit]

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Cliff Stearns
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Florida's 6th congressional district

Succeeded by
Michael Waltz
Party political offices
Preceded by
Rick Scott
Republican nominee for Governor of Florida
Most recent
Political offices
Preceded by
Rick Scott
Governor of Florida

Taking office 2019