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Casey DeSantis has advised her husband on media strategy and taken on some of the state’s big issues. The presidential campaign trail is next.
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By Katie Glueck
During a recent appearance in South Carolina, after Ron DeSantis played up his state’s economic and education policies and bashed a litany of ideological adversaries, his wife settled into an armchair next to him onstage, reflecting on her role as the first lady of Florida.
“I didn’t want to be that proverbial potted plant,” Casey DeSantis said.
No one — fan, skeptic or critic — would accuse her of that.
Ms. DeSantis, 42, is widely seen as perhaps Mr. DeSantis’s most important adviser. In the governor’s mansion, she advised on media strategy and helped vet personnel. She has narrated some of his more attention-grabbing ads and taken on wide-ranging projects about issues like mental health, disaster relief and cancer, surviving a bout with it herself.
Now, as Mr. DeSantis enters the presidential contest, people who know Ms. DeSantis or who have encountered her on the nascent campaign trail expect that she will play a vital role in his most important race yet, seeking to shape perceptions of the campaign, build relationships with party stakeholders and to illuminate the personal side of her hard-edged husband, who sometimes struggles to connect.
“You have the first ladies that are kind of more in a supportive posture, they are not ones that are out there stumping,” said Steven Wright, the Republican chairman in Dorchester County, S.C., who encountered Ms. DeSantis during the couple’s swing through the area. “And then you have the first ladies that are similar to Casey DeSantis.”
In recent weeks, she has gushed over Iowa’s gas station pizza and highlighted her personal connections to South Carolina, the first-in-the-South primary state (she attended the College of Charleston, where she competed on the equestrian team).
She has met with local Republican officials and offered public glimpses of family life as the mother of three children. When Mr. DeSantis spoke at a Republican dinner in Ohio last month, Ms. DeSantis joined the trip too, swinging through her hometown, Troy, Ohio, where the family met with the mayor.
“She shows the human side of the governor and his personal side,” Mr. Wright said.
And she and Mr. DeSantis recently hosted Bob Vander Plaats, an influential social conservative from Iowa, for lunch at the governor’s mansion.
“They could free her up to go on her own to represent the governor at different campaign stops where he can’t be,” said Mr. Vander Plaats, citing her “ability to be very poised in front of a crowd.” He recalled that they dined on arugula spring salad, prosciutto-wrapped scallops with green beans and a strawberry fruit salad dessert.
Mr. DeSantis met Jill Casey Black, a local news reporter at the time, at a driving range complex in Florida, he wrote in his recent book, “The Courage to Be Free.” They were married at Walt Disney World, years before Mr. DeSantis went to war with Disney. (“Casey’s family was what one might call a family of Disney enthusiasts,” he wrote.)
“She’s keenly aware of public-facing events, the news cycle, optics,” said Stephen Lawson, who served as Mr. DeSantis’s spokesman during his 2018 race for governor. “So much of who he is and where he’s come from and his story centers around her, and I think she’ll continue to play a pivotal role in how that story unfolds.”
“She is his primary sounding board,” he added.
In that 2018 contest, she narrated an ad that highlighted Mr. DeSantis’s fealty to President Donald J. Trump by showing him encouraging his young child to “build the wall” out of blocks.
Last year, she recorded an emotional direct-to-camera spot, her voice wavering as she described how her husband had helped her through cancer.
She also promoted a video that cast his political rise as divinely inspired.
Ms. DeSantis has also been linked to political drama, and some have questioned the scope of her portfolio in office, wondering whether she has too much influence inside the governor’s insular inner circle.
“She assumes authority that she does not have,” said Mac Stipanovich, a Republican-turned-independent who served as a longtime Florida strategist and lobbyist, though he said he was sharing his impressions rather than firsthand knowledge. “From whence came this woman’s strategic political genius?”
“People would always question, who is the closest person to Ron, who is somebody who can get his ear?” added Nikki Fried, now the chairwoman of the Florida Democratic Party and a former agriculture commissioner who ran unsuccessfully for governor in the Democratic primary last year. The only name that ever came back, she said, “was Casey’s.”
Lindsey Curnutte, a spokeswoman for the DeSantis team, did not respond to a request for comment.
But Representative Jared Moskowitz, a Florida Democrat who worked with the DeSantises as Florida’s director of emergency management, said he had found Ms. DeSantis to be someone who was receptive to ideas and whose “door was always open.”
“The first lady, who has a significant background in communications, comes into a room and really just captivates,” said Mr. Moskowitz, who is supporting President Biden’s re-election bid.
There is a long history of politicians navigating the complexities of family members’ involvement in their campaigns or administrations, including Bill and Hillary Clinton and Vice President Kamala Harris, whose sister was a key adviser during her presidential primary campaign.
In New York City, Chirlane McCray was the closest adviser to her husband, Bill de Blasio, as he ran for mayor and then during his time at City Hall, an arrangement that at times stoked controversy.
In an interview, Mr. de Blasio — a Democrat who is “energetically” supporting Mr. Biden — defended the art of the political power couple, saying that “when it feels natural, it’s kind of irreplaceable.”
“You need someone who understands your goals, your motivations, what you can handle, what you can’t, all that, and that’s all subsumed in a spouse under good conditions,” Mr. de Blasio said.
But he acknowledged that, depending on the couple, spouse-advisers could also be “too close to the situation.”
“There’s a huge tradition of spouses being very protective and defensive for their loved one in office,” he said. “Sometimes that can create a blindness or a kind of knee-jerk reaction, or a sense of vengeance that is not always productive.”
“It can be a beautiful model, it can be a powerful model,” he added, “or it can really backfire.”
Nicholas Nehamas contributed reporting. Kirsten Noyes contributed research.
Katie Glueck is a national political reporter.Previously, she was chief Metro political correspondent, and a lead reporter for The Times covering the Biden campaign. She also covered politics for McClatchy’s Washington bureau and for Politico. @katieglueck
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Florida's First Lady, and Second in Command.
First Lady Casey DeSantis is the wife of Florida's 46th Governor, Ron DeSantis.Is DeSantis Italian or Spanish? ›
DeSantis or De Santis is an Italian surname.What nationality is Jill Casey DeSantis? ›
Jill Casey DeSantis (née Black, born June 26, 1980) is an American former news journalist, television show host, and the current first lady of Florida as the wife of Governor Ron DeSantis. Zanesville, Ohio, U.S.Was Ron DeSantis a Navy SEAL? ›
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.What is Ron DeSantis last name? › Is Casey DeSantis related to Ron DeSantis? ›
Ron DeSantis' wife Casey DeSantis is taking an active role in his 2024 presidential campaign. A former newscaster, Casey has helped DeSantis refine his public image.Where does the word DeSantis come from? ›
Feedback: “DeSantis” is derived from “sanctus,” the Latin word for “holy.” Merriam-Webster defines the English word “sanctus” as “an ancient Christian hymn of adoration sung or said immediately before the prayer of consecration in traditional liturgies.”Does Florida have a Spanish name? ›
In the beginning, Florida was named Pascua Florida by explorer Ponce de Leon on Easter in 1513. This expression means “Flowery Easter” or “Flowering Easter” due to Spain's Easter celebration.What did DeSantis do in the military? ›
More On: Ron DeSantis
The GOP presidential candidate enrolled in the Navy in 2004 and served in Iraq and at the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, detention camp as a Judge Advocate General officer. He was honorably discharged from active duty in 2010 but served in the US Navy Reserve until 2019.
DeSantis is not independently wealthy and his fundraising support comes from state parties, national parties and wealthy GOP donors. He receives large sums of money via checks from influential Florida businesses and small donations from all 50 states.How old is Jill Casey DeSantis? › Where does DeSantis live? ›
The Florida Governor's Mansion (also called The People's House of Florida) is a historic U.S. residence in Tallahassee, Florida and the official residence of the governor of Florida. On July 20, 2006, it was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.What is DeSantis net worth? ›
Net Worth. DeSantis' net worth is currently around $320,000, according to Celebrity Net Worth. His assets include a $134,181 governor's salary, $235,000 in a USAA account and $105,755 in a thrift savings plan, a government retirement and investment plan, according to FCE data.What is Ron DeSantis military rank? ›
DeSantis served as a trial defense counsel until he was honorably discharged from active duty in early 2010. He concurrently accepted a reserve commission as a lieutenant in the JAG of the U.S. Navy Reserve.Does governor DeSantis have a sister? › How old is Ron DeSantis? › Are there term limits for the governor of Florida? ›
The current constitution of 1968 states that should the governor serve, or would have served had he not resigned, more than six years in two consecutive terms, he cannot be elected to the succeeding term.What religion is Ron DeSantis? ›
If elected, DeSantis would be the third Catholic president joining John F. Kennedy and current President Joe Biden.Who are Ron DeSantis siblings? ›
Even our state's name came from an early Spanish explorer's first vision. Juan Ponce de Leon arrived near Florida's shore in April 1513, near Easter, and called the lush new land La Pascua de la Florida, translated often as "flowery passover," or "passion of the flowers."How did Florida get its name? ›
WHY'S IT CALLED THAT? Florida's original Spanish name is La Florida, which means “place of flowers.” Some historians think Ponce de León chose the name to honor the blooming flowers he saw there, or in tribute to Spain's Easter celebration called Pascua Florida, or “Feast of Flowers.”Has Ron DeSantis been married before? ›
When did Ron DeSantis get married? Ron DeSantis was first married in 2009 to Casey Black. They were last married in 2010 to Casey Black.What city in Florida has the highest Spanish population? ›
Miami, Florida: 310,472 people, or 70.2% of the 442,241 total inhabitants are Hispanic.What is the motto of Florida? ›
"In God We Trust" was adopted by the Florida legislature as part of the state seal in 1868. This is also the motto of the United States and is a slight variation on Florida's first state motto, "In God is our Trust." In 2006, "In God We Trust" was officially designated in state statute as Florida's motto.What did the Spaniards call Florida? ›
Sometime between April 2 and April 8, Ponce de León waded ashore on the northeast coast of Florida, possibly near present-day St. Augustine. He called the area la Florida, in honor of Pascua florida ("feast of the flowers"), Spain's Eastertime celebration.Who led the U.S. military into Florida? ›
Forces under Gen. Andrew Jackson invaded Spanish Florida, attacked several key locations, and pushed the Seminoles farther south into Florida. St. Marks, Fla., April 1818 -- Two Seminole chiefs, or micos are captured by Jackson's forces who used the ruse of flying the British flag to lure the Indians to them.Who commands the Florida National Guard? ›
Major General John Haas is The Adjutant General of Florida. As the Adjutant General, he is the senior military advisor to the Governor, responsible for the overall management, readiness and mobilization of both U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force elements of the Florida National Guard.When was DeSantis in the Navy? ›
DeSantis joined the United States Navy in 2004 and earned a promotion to lieutenant. After being stationed in Guantanamo and Iraq, he served as a special assistant U.S. attorney in Florida until 2010. He then served in the U.S. Navy Reserve until 2019.What kind of vehicle does Ron DeSantis drive? ›
Ron DeSantis has recently bought a brand-new Lexus GX at a price of $41,000 USD. Ron DeSantis also owns an Land Rover Velar that's worth $90,000 USD. A few other cars in Ron DeSantis's collection are listed down below.
There is considerable variation in the salaries of governors too. In Florida, the salary of the governor stood at $134,181 as of 2021, the 19th lowest among the 50 states. For additional context, the typical state governor earns between $147,000 and $150,000.How many millionaires are there in the state of Florida? ›
There are 383,290 millionaires living in Florida, meaning it ranks fourth in the nation. But per capita, the outlook isn't as bright in the Sunshine State.Who is the first lady of Florida? ›
PHOTO RELEASE: Governor Ron DeSantis and First Lady Casey DeSantis Honor Veterans on Memorial Day. TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Governor Ron DeSantis and First Lady Casey DeSantis hosted over 400 veterans and their families at the Governor's Mansion to honor the Memorial Day holiday.Where did DeSantis go to college? › Who is Ernie DeSantis wife? ›
For over ten years he has been blessed to teach 5th grade students in his hometown of Dearborn, Michigan, where he currently resides with his wonderful wife Stacey, and their two beautiful children, Vincia, and Valentino.Does the governor live at the governor's mansion? ›
Family FAQs. Does the Governor actually live in the Governor's Mansion? Yes he does. The top two floors are considered the Governor's private residence and are not open to the general public.Who is the current Florida governor? › Does Illinois have a governor's mansion? ›
Nestled between Springfield's brick-paved streets and just blocks from the State Capitol, the Illinois Governor's Mansion is the third-oldest state governor's residence in the United States and the oldest gubernatorial residence in the Midwest.Who is the richest in Florida? ›
- Net worth: $31.3 billion (#41 wealthiest in the world)
- Residence: Miami, Florida.
- Source of wealth: hedge funds, Self Made.
Governor DeSantis also announced that he will approve more than $1 billion for teacher pay in this year's budget, a $252 million increase over the current record.
How much is Trump worth? As of May, Forbes estimates Trump's net worth at $2.5 billion, putting the real estate developer at No. 1,232 on the magazine's list of the world's richest billionaires.Who has the highest rank in the armed forces? ›
What Is the Highest Military Rank? The highest military rank is O-10, or "five-star general." It is symbolized by five stars for each of the military services. Although it is currently a part of the military service rank system, only nine Americans ever have held this rank.Who is the high ranking member of the military? ›
The United States Armed Forces have proposed and used two six-star ranks: General of the Armies and Admiral of the Navy. These are ranked directly above their five-star counterparts, General of the Army and Fleet Admiral.What rank is a lieutenant commander in the Navy? ›
Lieutenant Commander is the fourth commissioned officer's rank in the U.S. Navy, and is equivalent to the rank of Major in the other Armed Services. Lieutenant Commanders typically serve as mid-ranking officers in the excutive and command divisions of Navy vessels.What nationality is DeSantis ancestors? ›
A Florida-based genealogist traced DeSantis' family tree from Italy to America. His great-great-grandmother just made it in.What nationality is Mrs DeSantis? ›
Jill Casey DeSantis (née Black, born June 26, 1980) is an American former news journalist, television show host, and the current first lady of Florida as the wife of Governor Ron DeSantis. Zanesville, Ohio, U.S.Was DeSantis married before? ›
How long has Ron DeSantis been married for? Ron DeSantis was married to Casey Black for 14 years, and Casey Black for 13 years. Their longest marriage has been 14 years to Casey Black.Where does the name DeSantis come from? ›
$14.50 $11.60. The surname Desantis is patronymic in origin, meaning it was based on the first name of a forefather. In this case, Desantis is derived from the Latin word "sanctus," meaning "holy" or "devout," thus the original bearer of the name was known to be a holy and devout person.How many kids does DeSantis have? ›
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced that he's running for president. His wife, Casey DeSantis, is a former newscaster who has helped him refine his public image. They have three young children: Madison, Mason, and Mamie.