Florida’s First Lady, and Second in Command
During a recent appearance in South Carolina, as Ron DeSantis pushed his state’s economic and education policies and dismissed ideological opponents, his wife took the stage, reflecting her role as Florida’s first lady. But she sat on the chair next to him.
“I didn’t want to be that proverbial plant,” Casey DeSantis said.
No one – fans, skeptics or critics – would blame him for that.
Ms. DeSantis, 42, is widely seen as Mr. DeSantis’ most important adviser. At the governor’s mansion, he Advised on media strategy And Doctors helped.. He described some more of it. An attention getter Advertisements And has worked on a wide range of projects on similar issues. Mental health, Disaster relief And Cancer, Avoiding a competition himself with it.
Now, as Mr. DeSantis enters the presidential race, those who know or have encountered Ms. DeSantis during the primary campaign expect her to try to shape perceptions of the campaign. Hoye, will play an important role in her most important race yet, building relationships with party stakeholders and bringing out the personal side of her tough-guy husband, who Sometimes a struggle to connect.
“You have first ladies who are more in a supportive way, they’re not out there stomping,” said Republican Chairman Steven Wright in Dorchester County, S.C. area. “And then you have first ladies who resemble Casey DeSantis.”
In recent weeks, he Ran into gas station pizza in Iowa. And Highlighted his personal connections. for South Carolina, the first primary state in the South (he attended the College of Charleston, where he competed on the equestrian team).
She has met with local Republican officials and offered public glimpses of family life as a mother of three. When Mr. DeSantis spoke at a Republican dinner in Ohio last month, Ms. DeSantis Also joined the trip.swinging through it Hometown, Troy, OhioWhere the family met the mayor.
“She shows the human side of the governor and his personal side,” Mr. Wright said.
And he and Mr. DeSantis recently hosted Bob VanderPlatts, an influential social conservative from Iowa. Lunch at Governor’s Mansion.
Mr. Vander Platts cited his “ability to get very excited in front of a crowd,” saying, “It frees him up to go out on his own to represent the governor at various campaign stops where he might not be. ” She recalled that they dined on arugula spring salad, prosciutto-wrapped scallops with green beans and strawberry fruit salad for dessert.
Mr. DeSantis met Jill Casey Black, a local news reporter at the time, at a Florida driving range complex, he wrote in his recent book, “The Courage to Be Free.” They were Married at Walt Disney World.Many years before Mr. DeSantis Went to war with Disney.. (“Casey’s family was what one might call a family of Disney fans,” he wrote.)
Casey DeSaints made a career as a Television personality In Florida, though, that background didn’t stop him from flogging Mr. DeSantis.Woke up the corporate media.”
“He’s very familiar with public events, the news cycle, the optics,” said Stephen Lawson, who served as Mr. DeSantis’ spokesman during his 2018 run for governor. “Who he is and where he comes from and his story centers around that, and I think she’s going to continue to play an important role in that story unfolding.”
“He’s her primary sounding board,” he added.
In this 2018 competition, they An advertisement described. which highlighted Mr. DeSantis’ loyalty to President Donald J. Trump and showed him encouraging his toddler to “build a wall” with blocks.
Last year, he recorded one. Emotional direct-to-camera spaceher voice wavered as she recounted how her husband had helped her through cancer.
they also Promoted a video. who presented his political rise as divinely inspired.
Ms. DeSantis is also Linked to political drama.and some have questioned the scope of his portfolio in office, wondering if he has too much influence in the governor’s inner circle.
“She assumes authority that she doesn’t have,” McStepanovich said Republican– Became independent. who served as A longtime Florida strategist and lobbyist, though, he said he was sharing his impressions rather than first-hand knowledge. “Where did this woman’s political strategy come from?”
“People will always ask, who is the closest person to Ron, who can hold his ear?” Nikki Fried, now chairwoman of the Florida Democratic Party and A Former Agriculture Commissioner WHO Failed to escape for governor in the Democratic primary last year. The only name that ever came back, he said, was “Casey’s.”
DeSantis team spokeswoman Lindsay Current did not respond to a request for comment.
But Representative Jared Moskowitz, Democrat of Florida, who worked with DeSantis as Florida’s director of emergency management, said he had found Ms. DeSantis to be receptive to ideas and whose door was open. It 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 backing President Biden’s re-election bid. .
Politicians have a long history of exploring the complications of family members’ involvement in their campaigns or administrations, including Bill and Hillary Clinton and Vice President Kamala Harris. whose sister She was a key adviser during his presidential primary campaign.
In New York City, Charlene McCray was her husband Bill de Blasio’s closest adviser ran for mayor and then During his time On City Hallthere is an arrangement that Occasionally created a controversy.
In an interview, Mr. de Blasio — a Democrat who is “passionately” supporting Mr. Biden — defended the art of the political power couple, saying that “when it feels natural, it’s kind of irresistible.” Is.”
“You need someone who understands your goals, your motivations, what you can handle, what you can’t handle, all of that, and all of that in a good way,” Mr. de Blasio said. included in life”.
But she acknowledged that, depending on the couple, spouse counselors can also be “very close to the situation.”
“There is a huge tradition in the office of spouses being very protective and protective of their loved one,” she said. “Sometimes it can create a kind of blindness or knee-jerk reaction, or a sense of revenge 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 Nihamas Cooperation reporting. Kristen Noyes participated in the research.