The speculation is over. It’s official.
U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis is running for Florida governor. He made his announcement on Fox News Fox and Friends this morning.
DeSantis’ decision to enter the race comes two weeks after President Donald Trump all but endorsed him on Twitter.
“Congressman Ron DeSantis is a brilliant young leader, Yale and then Harvard Law, who would make a GREAT Governor of Florida,” Trump tweeted a few days before Christmas. “He loves our Country and is a true FIGHTER!”
“As somebody who’s a military officer, Iraq veteran, a proven conservative and then with the support of the president, I’m in a position to exercise the leadership that can build on the great work that Gov. Rick Scott has done to advance economic opportunity, reform education and drain the swamp in Tallahassee, which needs to be drained just like Washington,” DeSantis said this morning on Fox.
His decision comes as no surprise. In his last appearance on Fox News last week, he all but said he would run, telling his interviewers to “stay tuned.”
DeSantis, 39, is a three-term congressman from Palm Coast representing Volusia and Flagler counties. He briefly entered the race for U.S, Senate in 2016 until Republican incumbent Marco Rubio decided he would seek reelection.
The former Navy lawyer has drawn attention for his criticism of the investigation being conducted by special counsel Robert Mueller into Russian involvement in the 2016 election.
DeSantis joins state Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam in the race for the Republican nomination for governor. House Speaker Richard Corcoran is likely to announce his candidacy sometime after the conclusion of the 2016 legislative session which starts Tuesday.
A spokeswoman for Putnam was critical of the way DeSantis chose to make his announcement, comparing it to Putnam’s announcement which was made before 2,000 supporters in Putnam’s hometown of Bartow.
“In true Washington insider fashion, Congressman Ron DeSantis announced his latest campaign from an empty TV studio to broadcasters in New York,” said Amanda Bevis, Putnam’s campaign communications director. “DeSantis is a typical Washington politician who is focused on nothing more than his next promotion.”
“We’ve got to put Florida first to make sure that it isn’t only the place where people come after a life well-lived somewhere else; it’s where they come to launch their own American Dream,” said Putnam. “Hard-working folks like these have been able to achieve their American Dream right here in Florida. I want every single Floridian to be able to tell a similar story. I want people around the country to know this is where it happens.”
During Friday morning’s announcement on Fox, DeSantis said an official campaign kickoff will be held.
“While this is an important step towards running for Governor, an official campaign kick-off will take place later this month,” DeSantis said.
Democrats in the gubernatorial race were quick to criticize DeSantis on Twitter for his ties to Trump.
@RonDeSantisFL has dedicated himself to protecting Trump and becoming a Fox News star, we look forward to a debate on the issues that affect Florida families,” tweeted Gwen Graham. “His support for privatizing schools, his denial of climate change and his votes to cut Medicare are out of touch.”
@realDonaldTrump’s chosen candidate @RepDeSantis has entered the race. The absolute LAST thing Florida needs is an alt-right extremist In the Governor’s mansion,” tweeted Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine.
@realDonaldTrump’s handpicked candidate, @RonDeSantisFL, just entered our race. I’m even more determined to spend 2018 fighting against the Trump agenda & standing up for Florida’s working families,” responded Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum.
DeSantis has already built a strong following, especially after receiving the support of Trump.
DeSantis has compiled an impressive list of more than two dozen wealthy Republican contributors at the national level, including Las Vegas casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson.
He has also amassed the support of more than 50 big-named contributors here in Florida. Those include Palm Beach billionaire Thomas Peterffy and Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus.