Even with his opponent retracting his concession while a recount of the election results was underway, Ron DeSantis has wasted little time preparing to take the reins of state government. Since as soon as the Friday after Election Day, the former congressman has sat in on a series of meetings and interviews designed to chart the course of his administration.
And now, with a second concession from Democrat Andrew Gillum and DeSantis named the clear victor, the Governor-elect can accelerate his transition plans.
Look for DeSantis to name a Chief of Staff immediately after — but not before — the Thanksgiving holiday, sources familiar with his decision-making tell Florida Politics.
That job, almost undoubtedly, would have gone to campaign maestro Susie Wiles, however she has told the Gov.-elect she plans to return to Jacksonville and her lucrative private sector role after the transition.
Initially, four political insiders — Shane Strum, Kathy Mears, Scott Parkinson, and Scott Ross — were thought to be in the running for the Chief of Staff position, however the shortlist is in flux as DeSantis plans to interview several more candidates for the job.
Meanwhile, Mears, a former chief of staff to two House Speakers and currently the chief lobbyist for Florida State University, has unofficially taken herself out of consideration, insisting that it’s not the right time for her to make a personnel move.
Not this MearKat. ❤️ https://t.co/Z1Ttxg6DUs
— Kathy Mears (@MearKat00) November 15, 2018
Ross, who was one of the very first people to encourage DeSantis to run for Governor, increasingly looks like he will remain in the private sector at top-flight firm Capital City Consulting.
One name that has been increasingly mentioned as a possibility for CoS is former House Speaker Richard Corcoran. Indeed, Corcoran has been a particularly active member of DeSantis’ transition team, speaking up often during policy meetings and personnel interviews.
However, the Corcoran-as-Chief-of-Staff rumor is just that, transition sources say — and the reasons why it’s not going to happen come from both sides: DeSantis doesn’t envision Corcoran playing that role and Corcoran is not interested in the position.
Although a Chief of Staff won’t be named this holiday week, DeSantis is close to announcing who will comprise his Inaugural Committee. Seeing one’s name on this list is a plum reward for supporting DeSantis during the campaign. Casey DeSantis is said to playing a key role in hammering out this list, which could be announced as early as Tuesday.
Additionally, the transition intends to announce more staff hires as soon as Monday.
One big question for DeSantis heading into this week is not about who will get such and such job but rather how does he plan to spend Thanksgiving?
Sources familiar with DeSantis’ schedule say he intends to take part in a charity event Thursday morning and then head out on a well-deserved Turkey Day vacation.