Who is Ron DeSantis, The 46th Governor of Florida? Biography, Career, Achievements, Wife, Children

Ron DeSantis is the 46th governor of Florida. Prior to becoming governor, he served in Congress for nearly three terms, where he was a co-founder of the hard-line Republican House Freedom Caucus. For his handling of Florida’s reaction to the COVID-19 outbreak and his backing of frequently divisive culturally conservative policies, he has garnered both criticism and admiration. In May 2023, DeSantis entered the contest for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024.

Early Life

Ronald Dion DeSantis was born on September 14, 1978, in Jacksonville, Florida.According to NBC News, DeSantis’ unusual middle name is in tribute of doo-wop musician Dion DiMucci, former lead singer of Dion and the Belmonts in the 1950s and 1960s. He is the older of two children born to Karen DeSantis, a nurse, and Ronald DeSantis, a Nielsen TV box installer. His younger sister, Christina, died in 2015 at the age of 30. DeSantis’ parents met in college in Youngstown, Ohio, and relocated to Florida in the mid-1970s.

The DeSantis family relocated to Dunedin, near Tampa Bay, after a brief stay in Orlando. DeSantis, who was raised Catholic, began his education at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic School. DeSantis, an avid baseball player, and his Dunedin team advanced to the 1991 Little League World Series, where they were eliminated in the quarterfinals. DeSantis later recalled his early experiences when speaking with a group of players from another Florida Little League team making a World Series appearance, telling them, “Those are friends that you’re going to have forever. Play hard, work hard… just feel lucky that you’re doing it.”

DeSantis continued his baseball career at Yale after graduating from Dunedin High School in 1997, eventually becoming captain of the varsity squad. He also took a number of jobs to finance his way through college until earning a bachelor’s degree in history in 2001 magna cum laude. In 2005, he obtained his juris doctorate from Harvard Law School.

Military Service

DeSantis joined the US Navy in 2004, while still a student at Harvard Law School, and completed training as a navy judge advocate general (JAG). He was initially assigned to a naval installation in Florida before being transferred to the US detention center in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. As a JAG, DeSantis advised military personnel and inmates on legal matters. In 2023, a former detainee claimed that DeSantis was present when he and other detainees were force-fed in an attempt to break hunger strikes protesting conditions at Guantánamo, an accusation DeSantis disputed.

DeSantis began serving as an advisor to an elite Navy SEAL squad at Naval Base Coronado in California after less than a year at Guantanamo, and then in Iraq in 2007. After a year, he returned to the Justice Department as a U.S. Attorney in Florida. He retired from active duty in 2010 but stayed in the United States Navy Reserve until shortly after becoming governor, retiring with the rank of lieutenant commander.

Dreams From Our Founding Fathers: First Principles in the Age of Obama, DeSantis’ first book, was published in 2011. It was a harshly critical look at then-President Barack Obama‘s progressive politics and DeSantis’ belief that the country had strayed from the philosophical vision of the Founding Fathers.

U.S. Congressman

DeSantis ran for Congress in a newly drawn north Florida district in 2012, fueled by the conservative political surge of the expanding Tea Party Movement, defeating six competitors to capture the Republican nomination before winning an easy victory in the general election.

While he had little legislative success with bills he sponsored, he became a prominent vocal critic of the Obama administration, arguing against increased spending, calling for stronger border security, and voting to repeal the Affordable Care Act and for measures that would have cut Medicare and raised the Social Security retirement age (controversial positions he would later try to walk back as his political ambitions grew). In addition, he refused his Congressional pension and advocated for term limits for members of Congress.

He was re-elected in 2014 and became a co-founder of the House Freedom Caucus, a hard-line conservative group with the declared purpose of pushing House Republican leadership to the right. DeSantis launched his candidacy for the United States Senate in 2015, but dropped out when Florida’s incumbent Senator Marco Rubio chose to run for reelection after dropping from the presidential race. DeSantis was re-elected to a third term in the House in 2016, and he resigned in September 2018 to run for governor of Florida.

Florida Governor

DeSantis launched his campaign for governor in early 2018, where he was considered an underdog but ultimately won the GOP primary, owing in part to support from then-President Donald Trump. The 2018 election was tumultuous, with the DeSantis campaign accused of bigotry in its campaign against his Black opponent, Democrat Andrew Gillum—a claim rejected by the DeSantis team. The Trump presidency also played a significant part in the contest, with DeSantis firmly aligning himself with the president’s frequently divisive opinions on matters such Florida immigration, abortion, and gun rights. DeSantis narrowly defeated Gillum on election night, winning by 0.4 percentage points.


As governor, DeSantis took decisive action to reform Florida. He appointed several conservative justices to the state’s supreme court, lowered the corporate tax rate, waded into the immigration debate by signing legislation prohibiting “sanctuary cities” in Florida, and joined Republican governors from Texas and Arizona in transporting newly arrived migrants to northern cities. He also passed a slew of laws restricting abortion access, including one in 2023 that outlawed most abortions after six weeks.

He became more involved in the cultural wars, particularly in education, where he has championed the struggle against what he and his followers refer to as “woke” politics. He’s been a vocal supporter of the parent’s rights movement, which aims to give parents more control over their children’s education by backing efforts to remove “harmful materials” from libraries and battling the College Board over Advanced Placement courses in African American history. He also approved legislation prohibiting college diversity and inclusion initiatives and the teaching of “critical race theory.”

DeSantis also expanded gun owner protections, while many others have called for legal changes in the effort to reduce gun violence.

DeSantis received plaudits for his handling of Hurricane Ian in September 2022. It was Florida’s deadliest storm in nearly a century, costing an estimated $40 billion in damage and killing 144 people. DeSantis’ hands-on approach and collaboration with President Joe Biden’s administration ensured that state and federal relief was delivered quickly.

COVID-19 Response

In the early days of the COVID-19 epidemic, DeSantis established laws to safeguard the elderly and weak, but resisted calls to “lock down” the state, doing so only in early April 2020, weeks after many of his fellow governors did.

Over the next several months, he relaxed many of the restrictions, stating that they represented a larger harm to Florida’s economy and citizens’ freedoms. By the fall of 2020, he had relaxed most restrictions, reopened schools, and supported legislation that barred local governments from implementing their own COVID-19 enforcements.

He got inoculated and encouraged others to get vaccinated, but he was opposed to vaccine mandates that were established throughout the country, signing legislation that prohibited mandates for both government and private-sector organizations. As the pandemic progressed, he became a more outspoken critic of the medical and governmental responses. Despite widespread criticism of DeSantis’ policies, Florida’s death rate remained below the national average, and the state’s economy did not suffer the severe blow that most of the rest of the country experienced.

Battle with Disney

DeSantis declared his support for a bill that would severely restrict discussion of sexual identity and gender in Florida’s public schools in 2022. Critics labeled it the “Don’t Say G**” law, claiming that it would prevent L**TQ students from receiving support from instructors and school employees, as well as potentially subjecting educators to legal liability if they discussed these matters with students.

The Walt Disney Company, one of Florida’s major employers, initially avoided taking a position on the measure but eventually advocated for its repeal in response to strong internal and external pressure. In response, DeSantis and the Florida legislature passed legislation seizing control of the Reedy Creek Improvement District, a self-governing district that had previously allowed Disney to administer municipal services in the area surrounding its Orlando Disney World theme parks and hotels. In addition, the new statute established a new board of supervisors for the district. Lawsuits quickly followed.

DeSantis supporters praised the governor’s actions as reining in a “woke” company, while others argued the governor was attempting to limit corporate free speech and had overreached his self-proclaimed position as a pro-business, small-government conservative. In 2023, Disney stated that it will cancel plans to relocate a key part of the firm to Florida, costing the state an estimated 2,000 jobs as well as millions in taxes and other revenue.


Despite the subsequent difficulties surrounding some of DeSantis’ beliefs, he comfortably won reelection to a second term in 2022, defeating former Governor Charlie Crist by the state’s greatest margin of victory in over 40 years.

Wife and Children

DeSantis met Casey Black in 2006 on a Florida golf course while working as a Judge Advocate General at neighboring Naval Station Mayport. After finishing college in South Carolina, Black traveled to Florida and worked as a television host for the Golf Channel as well as a reporter for the local WJXT television station.

The couple hit it off right away, with DeSantis noting in his biography 2023, “There was no way I was leaving that driving range without asking her on a date.” During DeSantis’ deployment to Iraq, the pair remained together and married in 2009 at Walt Disney World.

Madison, the couple’s first child, was born in 2016, followed by Mason in 2018, and Mamie, the couple’s second daughter, in 2020.

Casey DeSantis stated in 2021 that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer and that she was in remission in March 2022 after therapy and surgery. Casey DeSantis, Florida’s first lady, has sponsored a number of initiatives, including mental health and storm recovery work.A 2023 Politico story praised her political acumen and position as one of her husband’s most trusted advisors, emphasizing the increasingly involved role she is projected to play in his 2024 presidential campaign.

2024 Presidential Campaign

Shortly after his reelection to a second term as governor of Florida in 2020, preparations for a possible GOP presidential run in 2024 began. DeSantis released his second book, The Courage to Be Free: Florida’s Blueprint for America’s Revival, in 2023. His upbringing and political career are chronicled in his memoir. DeSantis began touring the country, making stops in early primary states such as New Hampshire and Iowa. The two former partners, regarded as the most serious prospective challengers to Donald Trump’s candidacy, began to distance themselves, launching a series of nasty attacks.

On May 24, 2023, DeSantis formally launched his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination during a Twitter Spaces event organized by the platform’s owner, Elon Musk. Despite technical gaffes that plagued the announcement, DeSantis later boasted to Fox News, “We had a huge audience. It was the biggest they ever had. It did break the Twitter space. We’re really excited about the enthusiasm.”

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