Ron DeSantis Moves to the Right With Ted Cruz and Mike Lee in Washington
Around the State
Rick Scott, Marco Rubio and Pam Bondi showed in 2010 that the path to victory in Florida Republican primaries involves going to the right and Ron DeSantis was clearly taking notes.
DeSantis carved out a space to the right of a crowded primary field to win an open congressional seat last year and he isn’t done yet. Last week, two tea party senators, Ted Cruz of Texas and Mike Lee of Utah, held a media event to promote a resolution to continue funding the federal government while gutting Obamacare. Only eight members of the Republican majority that controls the House were at the event and freshman DeSantis was among that number. No other member of the Florida delegation stood at Cruz’s and Lee’s side.
During his short time on the political stage, DeSantis has impressed. During his first nine months in Washington, DeSantis has been able to claim a little bit of the limelight, certainly more than most freshmen have been able to.
Part of this comes from DeSantis’ credentials. Originally from Jacksonville, DeSantis went to Yale as an undergrad before studying law at Harvard. He joined the Navy, serving in the JAG Corps and with the SEALs. After marrying Jacksonville television personality Casey Black, DeSantis left the service in 2010, returned home and won an open congressional seat in 2012, destroying an impressive field of Republican primary opponents and routing Democrat Heather Beaven in the process. DeSantis showed a knack for getting the endorsements of prominent Republicans at both the state and national levels.
Having turned 35 earlier this month, DeSantis has to be included in future political calculations for years to come. If Marco Rubio ends up on the national ticket in 2016, his Senate seat would be open and it’s possible that DeSantis could run for it, though that seems a little early. DeSantis could have a second opportunity to move to the Senate in 2018 when Bill Nelson’s term expires. DeSantis could challenge Nelson but he could be looking at an open seat since the incumbent will turn 76 that year.
Standing alongside Cruz and Lee, two of the leading conservatives in Washington, DeSantis is clearly carving out his political identity. As Florida Republicans start planning future statewide electoral bids they could find DeSantis staking out territory to their right.
Tallahassee political writer Jeff Henderson wrote this analysis exclusively for Sunshine State News.