Rep. Matt Gaetz rebukes gubernatorial rumors

by | Feb 20, 2024

Rep. Matt Gaetz has publicly refuted persistent speculation about his intentions to run for Florida governor in 2026, despite rumors fueled by a University of North Florida poll placing him as a potential frontrunner and “pre-endorsements” from political figures like Donald Trump Jr.

United States Congressman Rep. Matt Gaetz fired back on Monday against persistent rumors surrounding his purported intention to run for Florida governor in 2026.

With Gov. Ron DeSantis precluded from seeking a third consecutive term in 2026, discussions regarding his potential successor have gained momentum, with Gaetz emerging as a potential frontrunner in the speculative discourse, a narrative propelled by media conjecture and conversations within the Capitol.

A November poll conducted by the University of North Florida Public Opinion Research Lab sought to gauge early sentiments on potential frontrunners for the 2026 race. The findings positioned Gaetz on their shortlist, securing him a tie for second place with fellow Congressman Rep. Byron Donalds and behind First Lady Casey DeSantis, garnering 9 percent of the support.

The representative, however, bucked this notion as part of longer-winded response to proposed electoral structure changes in Florida purported to target his rumored run.

“You guys in Tallahassee didn’t have to do this. I have no plans to run for Governor,” said Gaetz, adding that he feels “exactly where I am supposed to be.”

Gaetz’s supposed run was further fueled by Donald Trump Jr., who on an August livestream gave a “pre-endorsement” for the Congressman in the case he runs. Despite the swirling speculations, Gaetz initially shut down the idea of running after NBC News reported last September that he is widely anticipated to campaign for the position.

“I ran into dozens of former colleagues from my days in the state legislature. They encouraged me relentlessly to consider returning to Florida. I wasn’t focused on any of that talk, though,” Gaetz told Axios.

Notably, Gaetz’s father Don Gaetz — a major power player in the world of Florida Politics — announced his election campaign in Senate District 1 in October in an attempt to return to the state legislature after serving from 2006 to 2016.

Gaetz holds significant political clout in the Florida Panhandle, having previously served as Senate President from 2012 to 2014. He also serves on the Florida Commission on Ethics and was the Chair of Triumph Gulf Coast, an entity he helped create, from 2018 to 2022.

Almost immediately upon Don Gaetz’s announcement, media pundits did political math and concluded that the elder Gaetz’s return to the arena could only mean one thing: Matt Gaetz is running for Florida governor in 2026. The younger Gaetz has tried to throw cold water on such talk, but it persists.

But his father’s influence in the state legislature could act as a crucial fundraising mechanism to bolster the younger Gaetz’s campaign coffers. As a major political player who would wield enormous influence in the state senate, Don Gaetz wouldn’t even have to lift a finger in order to influence political donations toward his son’s campaign.


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