The political tickets are now set for Florida’s race for governor as both Republican Ron DeSantis and Democrat Andrew Gillum announced their picks for running mates Thursday morning — DeSantis choosing a South Florida state lawmaker and Gillum selecting one of his former opponents in the governor’s race, Chris King.
News of DeSantis’ selection of Miami Rep. Jeanette Nuñez to be his choice for lieutenant governor leaked to the news media overnight, and DeSantis confirmed the reports on Thursday.
“Jeanette Nuñez is a strong, principled leader who will be an outstanding Lieutenant Governor for the people of Florida,” DeSantis said. “She has a proven record of leadership and legislative accomplishments, delivering for both her constituents in Miami-Dade and the state of Florida as a whole.
Gillum’s selection of King as his running mate was kept a little more secretive, making his choice known during a mid-morning announcement broadcast on his campaign’s Facebook page.
“This is not a political marriage. This is not a marriage of convenience,” King said. “I developed a friendship with Andrew Gillum over 18 months… I came to care for him and I came to admire him. His gifts. His talents. And most importantly his vision for the state of Florida–to lift up families all across this state who have not had a champion like Mayor Gillum. Who have not had someone who has spoken up to issues that the current leadership just doesn’t care for.”
Nuñez was elected to the Florida House in 2010 and served as Speaker pro tempore under Speaker Richard Corcoran. If DeSantis wins in November, she would be the first Cuban-American to hold the seat of lieutenant governor of Florida.
“I’m honored to have the opportunity to serve the people of Florida with Congressman DeSantis,” said Nuñez. “In South Florida, we know that by empowering the free market—not big government—we succeed as a state. Together, I know we can build an economy that works for all Floridians, protect our natural resources and provide every child a great education. I’m excited about sharing our message across the Sunshine State and bringing home a big win in November.”
DeSantis chose Nuñez despite her past criticism of President Donald Trump. A supporter of Marco Rubio in the 2016 presidential election, Nuñez accused Trump of being a member of the Ku Klux Klan. DeSantis is a strong supporter of the president, who propelled the Republican congressman into his party’s gubernatorial nomination after endorsing DeSantis in June.
“Jeanette will help us build on our economic success, protect our environment and empower parents to make the best educational decisions for their children,” DeSantis said. “I look forward to campaigning with her across our great state to secure Florida’s future.”
DeSantis and Nuñez are scheduled to campaign in Orlando and Miami Thursday.
King is an Orlando-area businessman who entered politics last year when he announced he would run for governor. Both he and Gillum were considered the Democrats most progressive candidates. During the primary campaign he proposed the abolishment of the death penalty, the legalization of marijuana and the imposition of a “bullet tax” that would generate revenue for gun safety programs and measures.
“What this race is going to be about is where we want to go as a state,” Gillum said in introducing King as his running mate. “Not where we’ve been, but where we want to go.”