Is Casey DeSantis Ron’s secret weapon? Ex-TV anchor wife wields influence as his closest adviser
He was a middle-class kid whose smarts got him to Yale then Harvard Law, where he was inspired to join the Navy after watching A Few Good Men. She was a glamorous Jacksonville news anchor who was one of the most recognized faces on Florida television.
Within a year of meeting on a golf driving range, Ron DeSantis married Casey Black in a white wedding at Disney World, Orlando.
It was a storybook union, sealed in a place where fairy tales are the currency, and within 12 years, they would be the Republican golden couple.
Along with their three young children, they have been described as a family ‘ready-made for a political campaign brochure’.
Now, after a landslide win to a second term as Florida Governor, pundits are asking: are the DeSantises America’s next First Family?
Ron DeSantis’s 19 point lead over his Dem rival Charlie Crist at this week’s midterms – the widest in a Florida gubernatorial race in 20 years – suggest he is a political juggernaut whose next step would be to set his sights on the White House and if insiders, ex-staffers and former co-workers are to be believed, it’s an address his ‘ambitious and adept’ wife Casey has long had her eye on.
Ron DeSantis has rocketed to the forefront of potential candidates for president in 2024 after his landslide re-election Tuesday and insiders say his fortunes have been molded by his ambitious wife Casey. Pictured are the two at their wedding at Disney World in Orlando in 2010
Insiders say it is Casey, 42, who molded her husband’s fortunes. She is, according to those in the know, widely recognized as his closest advisor and confidante, a de facto member of his staff and a driving force behind his success whose influence has been compared to that of Nancy Reagan over her husband.
It is Casey, they say, who pushed his meteoric rise and used her media training to polish his image for the national stage.
The ex-journalist is the ’emotional tuning fork’ who softens a man that ex-staff have described as a ‘bully’ with ‘the personality of a piece of paper,’ insiders close to DeSantis’s office told Vanity Fair this month.
Despite a public battle with cancer that went into remission in March, Casey has remained as hands-on as ever, attending almost all of her husband’s campaign events and even answering his emails.
Polished and articulate, the potential first lady has spearhead several fundraising efforts for her husband, for causes ranging from cancer research and recovery efforts for Hurricane Ian.
Their joint ambition and drive, combined with talk from pundits that 2024 will be their year has certainly rankled the 44-year-old Florida Governor’s old mentor-turned-frenemy Donald Trump who is himself hinting heavily at another run.
Among his attacks on a man he recently dubbed ‘Ron DeSanctimonious’, the ex-President hinted he would be quick to go on the attack against his friend-turned-foe.
In an interview with DailyMail.com on Trump Force One on Monday night, Trump said: ‘I don’t know if DeSantis is going to run… But if he did run I could tell you things about him that won’t be very flattering. I know more about him other than perhaps his wife. Even Trump went on to describe Casey as the one ‘who’s really running his (DeSantis’) campaign.’
DeSantis has so far refused to say whether he would run for the presidency, choosing instead to focus on the campaign in hand – the run for the Governor’s Mansion.
But former colleagues of Casey’s at local station WJXT told Vanity Fair earlier this year: ‘I remember I once said [to a colleague], ‘Casey wants to be a senator’s wife.’ And he said, ‘No, she fully intends on being a president’s wife’.’
DeSantis, meanwhile – who has been repeatedly likened to Trump – is a relative newcomer to politics, having been elected to Florida’s House of Representatives in 2012 and then governor a mere six years later.
Over the next decade, DeSantis’s star would rise quickly – going from a federal prosecutor to governor, at the time endorsed by then-President Trump.
The ex-journalist is the ’emotional tuning fork’ who softens a man, in DeSantis, that ex staff have described as a ‘bully’ with ‘the personality of a piece of paper,’ insiders close to the governor’s office told Vanity Fair this month. Thus, she is always by his side, just as she was during his first successful run. The pair are pictured during DeSantis’ initial run at an event in 2018
Trump and DeSantis’ relationship has reportedly fizzled out amid rising tensions between the two conservative titans. The two are pictured here in 2018 during a DeSantis rally in Estero. on Monday – shortly before DeSantis marked victory – the former president issued a veiled threat, that he is ready to attack the couple by releasing damning information on both of them – while insinuating that Casey (center) is the one ‘really running’ her husband’s campaign
The New Yorker recently pegged the couple – who married at Disney World in Orlando – as ready made for a campaign brochure,’ along with their three kids (from left), Mamie, Mason, and Madison. The family is pictured together earlier this year
The politician was born in Jacksonville, and boasts an impressive education pedigree with degrees from both Yale and Harvard Law – even captaining the former’s baseball team.
From Harvard, DeSantis enlisted in the Navy, where he was quickly assigned to its famed legal faction, the Judge Advocate General’s Corps (JAG), and worked with detainees at Guantanamo Bay and as a legal aide for Navy SEALS in Iraq.
Speaking to the The New Yorker, a friend said that DeSantis, still a law student at Harvard, was inspired to join the Navy after watching A Few Good Men, in which Tom Cruise plays a JAG lawyer.
DeSantis left the service in 2010, and quickly and married Casey and had three children – one boy and two girls, then a local TV newscaster called ‘one of the most recognizable faces on Jacksonville television,’ who would soon encourage DeSantis’ political hopes.
She would also use the skills obtained in her years as a TV anchor to bolster DeSantis’s media image. Casey eventually becoming the Republican’s closest confidant, leading fundraising for victims of Hurricane Ian and surviving a battle with breast cancer this year.
A colleague of the Governor was quoted as saying the family ‘look like they’re from central casting’ – and subsequently are prime for the White House.
After his service in the Navy ended, DeSantis – who to this day is a Navy reserve – took up work as a federal prosecutor in Washington.
The emphatic victory affirmed DeSantis’s appeal to voters after a term that saw the former Navy officer clean up crime and stand up to the increasingly woke left. DeSantis is pictured here during his time as a Navy officer, in this undated image
The politician was born in Jacksonville in 1978, and would obtain an impressive education pedigree by studying at both Yale and Harvard Law – even captaining the former’s baseball team. He is now a favorite among the GOP to win the nomination. A young DeSantis is pictured playing baseball in this undated image, taken at some point in the 1980s (left) and as a boy fishing (right)
Casey, right, during her career as a Florida TV news station anchor in 2014. In 2012, her husband would take his first step into Florida politics, campaigning for a seat in Florida’s famously conservative Sixth Congressional District. DeSantis went on to win and Casey immediately became an unofficial member of his staff. A former congressional staffer recalled to Vanity Fair how ‘[Casey] was looped in on every email and calendar invite’ at the time – a practice sources said she still maintains. ‘If Casey said jump,’ the source continued of the former newswoman’s incredible influence, ‘we would pull out the trampoline.’
Casey DeSantis, pictured June 2015. She used her media training to polish his image for the national stage. The ex-journalist is the ’emotional tuning fork’ who softens a man that ex-staff have described as a ‘bully’ with ‘the personality of a piece of paper,’ insiders close to DeSantis’s office told Vanity Fair this month
In 2012, he would take his first step into Florida politics, campaigning for a seat in Florida’s famously conservative Sixth Congressional District.
DeSantis went on to win and Casey immediately became an unofficial member of his staff. A former congressional staffer recalled to Vanity Fair how ‘[Casey] was looped in on every email and calendar invite’ at the time – a practice sources said she still maintains.
‘If Casey said jump,’ the source continued of the former newswoman’s incredible influence, ‘we would pull out the trampoline.’
At the time, the former soldier campaigned on a platform of ‘small government,’ and openly refuted the the Obama administration, which DeSantis argued had grown increasingly overarching and oppressive over the years, in both its policies and governance.
Criticizing the government’s tendency to intervene on ‘virtually any issue, from the waistline of children to the temperature of earth,’ DeSantis also called for reduced taxes for the working class – a theme that would eventually become the backbone of the politician’s burgeoning political career.
After five years of fighting for citizens on Capitol Hill, DeSantis announced his intention to run for governor – earning a full endorsement of Obama’s successor, then-President Trump.
Quick to capitalize on the high-profile endorsement, DeSantis would echo several sentiments commonly associated with the commander-in-chief, going as far as to tell one of his children in a campaign ad to ‘build the wall’ while playing with blocks.
In that same ad, he urged the youngsters to construct a sign that read ‘Make America Great Again’, and read to his son Mason a fictional story book that referenced Trump’s Apprentice reality TV show and other trademark slogans.
‘Then Mr. Trump said ‘you’re fired!’ DeSantis said in the commercial with his son on his lap. ‘I love that part.’
The 30-second advert was later billed by a media consultant for DeSantis’ opponent as ‘the dumbest, most effective ad in Florida history’ – and the Republican promptly soared to victory in the infamous swing state in January 2019.
Quick to capitalize on the high-profile Trump endorsement, DeSantis would echo several sentiments commonly associated with the commander-in-chief, going as far as to tell one of his children in a campaign ad to ‘build the wall’ while playing with blocks.
In that same ad, he urged the youngsters to construct a sign that read ‘Make America Great Again’
He also read to his son Mason a fictional story book that referenced Trump’s Apprentice reality TV show and other trademark slogans. ‘Then Mr. Trump said ‘you’re fired!’ DeSantis said in the commercial with his son on his lap. ‘I love that part.’
The 30-second advert, featuring the entire DeSantis family, was later billed by a media consultant for DeSantis’ opponent as ‘the dumbest, most effective ad in Florida history’ – and the Republican promptly soared to victory in the infamous swing state in January 2019.
Aided by his hands-on wife, DeSantis’ first term would would soon see him put to the difficult test of navigating his state through the COVID-19 pandemic, with the politician earning his stripes by openly opposing current President Joe Biden’s COVID policies.
At the the time, the outspoken politician vowed his state would not mandate vaccines for children – a stance he’s reaffirmed ever since, even after the CDC voted the shot be recommended to kids as young as six month.
‘As long as I’m kicking and screaming, there will be no COVID shot mandates for your kids,’ DeSantis said in September, reiterating his long-held stance on the subject. ‘That is your decision to make as a parent.’
DeSantis also made White House medical advisor Anthony Fauci a prime target for criticism, going as far as to sell merchandise mocking the doctor’s at-times inconsistent restrictions – with kooozies imprinted with messages such as ‘How the hell am I going to be able to drink a beer with a mask on?’ and ‘Don’t Fauci my Florida.’
DeSantis’s inaugural term also saw him bring a swift reduction in crime, reducing it more than 14 percent in his first year alone.
The politician would also keep true to his word on promises to lower taxes, which, along with rising crime rates across the country, would inspire a mass pilgrimage of Americans to move the Sunshine State.
The transplants would come from populated, progressive cities such as New York, Los Angeles, and Seattle. All had been led by leftist leaders who fiercely supported strict pandemic restrictions.
But despite increasing political pressure on almost every front, DeSantis remained steadfast in his efforts to protect his citizens -including its children – pushing a guidance into law this year dubbed by detractors as the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill, which barred schools from instructing its youngest students on gender identity and sexual orientation.
DeSantis’s signing of the of the contentious bill would soon spark a heated battle between him and Disney, when the company opposed the change after being pressured by progressives, with DeSantis eventually stripping the Florida-based company of its special tax status in Florida earlier this year.
Disney, one of Florida’s most profitable tourist attractions and location of the couple’s 2010 wedding, had previously donated DeSantis’s political committee $50,000 in 2019 and another $50,000 in 2021, the year before the public falling out over the bill, known officially as the The Parental Rights in Education Act.
The guidance would also see DeSantis pitted against President Biden, who followed the precedent set by outraged progressive citizens and members of the LGBTQ community by branding it ‘hateful’ – a statement that did little to deter the governor from signing it into law in March.
Another bill, dubbed the ‘Stop Woke’ act, further set limits on public schools’ lessons, banning critical race theory – a controversial educational concept that claims racism is a social construct that has been embedded in American consciousness – from being taught in schools and workplaces across the state.
The college-level theory has spurred a slew of complaints from parents angry that their children are being taught concepts that often portray white people as oppressors and preaches concepts of institutional racism.
Those measures have put him at odds with progressives and political figures across the country, while simultaneously raising his profile as a potential presidential candidate.
With that said, DeSantis has been a vocal critic of the Biden administration on a host of other issues as well, including immigration – accusing it of not doing enough to quell the migrant crisis at the southern border.
The move won the politician acclaim among several conservative Republicans, especially those in border states such as Texas and Arizona, who have been criticized by Democrats in states thousands of miles away for not welcoming the tens of thousands of asylum seekers with open arms.
These same conservatives have since hailed DeSantis as a hero – potentially bolstering his presidential chances come November 2024.
However, noticeably absent from this slew of supporters in recent months was Donald Trump, one of DeSantis’ earliest and most ardent backers – leading many to believe that tension between the two has reached a boiling point as a electoral faceoff between the two seems almost certain.
DeSantis stormed to victory in Florida yesterday, flipping the Democrat stronghold of Miami Dade County. He is shown with his wife and kids on stage last night, celebrating his win
The vast majority of early 2024 GOP voter polls have put DeSantis right behind Trump in terms of who Republicans want as their next presidential nominee.
Like DeSantis, Trump has not yet formally declared his intent to run but he’s dropped several hints making it clear where he leans.
‘We’re winning big, big, big in the Republican Party for the nomination like nobody’s ever seen before,’ the former president said at a rally Saturday night – where DeSantis was noticeably absent.
The rift between the two has grown increasingly obvious in recent months, with Vanity Fair reporting this month that DeSantis privately told donors that if he did indeed run, he would attack Trump’s spotty record as a politician and competence issues without mercy.
Meanwhile, some contend that DeSantis’s very public attacks against the media concerning his more controversial policies may what ultimately thrusts him to political stardom.
‘People make a lot of who Ron DeSantis hates, but one of his biggest assets is who hates him,’ Sarah Longwell, a Republican strategist and founder of Republican Voters Against Trump,.
‘The media finds him appalling, and he loves that. That’s another thing he learned from Trump. If you outrage the media, they talk about you a lot, and that boosts your name ID and helps you with fans and loyalists.’
With that said, DeSantis does have a few other detractors, with some close to the potential president alleging his fatal flaw is a noticeably antagonistic demeanor. However, sources said smoothing these issues is his ever-watchful wife, who in addition to being her husband’s primary advisor acts as his handler.
‘The biggest complaint you hear about DeSantis is that he never says thank you,’ a veteran GOP strategist told Vanity Fair of DeSantis’ reputation among Republican circles, which reportedly has alienated other politicians aside from Trump, 76.
The unnamed insider added: ‘People host events where donors give him enormous sums of money, and he never says thank you.’
Over the last decade, Yale and Harvard Law grad DeSantis’s star would rise dramatically – from a federal prosecutor to governor. He and Casey are pictured here at a Florida event in Doral in February. The pair met in 2010 and married that year, just before DeSantis made his foray into politics. She is said to be the driving force behind his success
Polished and articulate, the potential first lady has spearhead several fundraising efforts for her husband, for causes ranging from cancer research and recovery efforts for Hurricane Ian
Former DeSantis staffers further told the publication in September that they believed that DeSantis’s temperament would prove a serious liability if he assumed the presidency, a notoriously stressful position – if not for his wife.
What’s more, others indicated that DeSantis’s personality is not only plagued by arrogance but that the politician is incredibly awkward as well, reportedly alienating high-profile figures at prominent fundraising events because of his anti-social nature.
‘He’s missing the sociability gene,’ a source described as a ‘prominent Republican’ told Vanity Fair, adding that other shared his perception of the governor as well.
A GOP strategist added of DeSantis’s supposedly widely known shortcomings.
‘He doesn’t do the warm and fuzzies well. I was at a fundraiser in DC where he was like two hours late. Everyone was like, What the f**k?’ the insider said.
Staffers under DeSantis have said that his offices have earned a reputation as unhappy places to work, as the outspoken politico regularly bullies employees, sources told Vanity Fair.
The abuse was reportedly so bad, the insiders said, that last year they decided to from a moral support group.
An ex-gubernatorial aide who worked for DeSantis told the outlet: ‘When you work for Ron, he makes you feel like you’re just lucky to be there,’
Meanwhile, another source who worked with DeSantis during his time in congress also described the politician’s demeanor as unapproachable.
‘I describe him as having the personality of a piece of paper,’ the staffer said, adding, ‘I once had to drive him to the airport. We got stuck in traffic for an hour, and he didn’t say a word.’
A past adviser further lamented of the new face of the Republican Party: ‘He’s a terrible bully.’
Working relentlessly to smooth those concerns, insiders told Vanity Fair, is his wife Casey – who sources indicated has emerged as her husband’s closest confidant over the course of this ten-year political career.
‘The only person he listens to is ambitious and adept Casey,’ a former congressional staffer told the publication, who published a report on DeSantis in September that saw them speak to dozens of insiders privy to the inner workings of DeSantis’ political operations.
Instead, DeSantis reportedly only consults his wife – once a news anchor for the Jacksonville’s WJXT – on matters ranging from everything from hiring and media appearances, to policy and wardrobe.
The magazine also learned through their accounts that Casey has been known to pen thank-you cards and make phone calls in DeSantis’s stead.
With that said, Casey – described by many as socially ambitious and politically conservative – seems just as poised for the White House as her romantic partner, with sources telling Vanity Fair that she had presidential aspirations well before even meeting her husband in 2010, while he was playing a round of golf at the University of North Florida’s course.
And despite a very public bout with breast cancer, Casey has remained as hands-on as ever, attending almost all of her husband’s campaign events and even answering his emails.
The Hill reported that Casey is also emboldening her husband’s 2024 White House ambitions – pushing him to run and cut his second gubernatorial term short,
A family man with conservative values, the governor’s win Tuesday reaffirmed his stance at the forefront of the Republican party. He is pictured here with his two daughters, Mamie and Madison, in Tampa earlier this year. DeSantis’ first term saw him fight for his citizens – particularly kids – by limiting the influence of the left on schools and other institutions across his state
DeSantis’ handling of Hurricane Ian, meanwhile, which wreaked havoc on Florida’s Southwest coast and several other parts of the state in September, has since been hailed by onlookers and pundits alike as decidedly impressive.
For much of the past year, DeSantis has only hinted at a presidential run. He has refused to seek Trump’s endorsement for his reelection.
The governor also raised eyebrows during a debate against Crist last month, when he refused to promise he would serve out his full four years as governor.
What’s more, thanks in part to the fundraising efforts of his wife, the politician has amassed a campaign war chest of more than $200 million over the course of his campaign, meaning he is well placed to launch a presidential run once the formality of re-election is out of the way.
And with a increasingly large multi-ethnic coalition, demonstrated by his favorable results from Hispanic-heavy county Miami-Dade, many contend that DeSantis is poised to take the White House back from Democrats.
His biggest competition, it seems, comes in former backer Trump, who at the rally in Pennsylvania Saturday unveiled one of his trademark nicknames for his recently surface rival: ‘Ron DeSanctimonious.’
Then, on Monday – shortly before DeSantis marked victory – the former president issued a veiled threat, seemingly stating he had damning information on both DeSantis and his wife, while asserting that Casey was the one ‘really running’ her husband’s campaign.
‘I don’t know that he’s running. I think if he runs he could hurt himself very badly, I really believe he could hurt himself badly,’ said Trump.
He then hinted he was ready to go on the attack with personal details.
‘But if he did run I could tell you things bout him that won’t be very flattering. I know more about him other than perhaps his wife – who’s really running about his campaign.’
DeSantis, who in his victory speech Tuesday reiterated his stance that ‘Florida is where the woke go to die,’ has not yet confirmed his candidacy for presidency – but taking into account the reports of several insiders, an announcement seems inevitable in the coming months.