Florida Politics’ Politician of the Year: Casey DeSantis
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The First Lady deserves credit for the Governor's ascent to Republican superstardom.

The DeSantis name and brand reverberate far beyond the Governor’s Mansion in Tallahassee.

What once was whispered about a presidential run in 2024 now is openly discussed from the east coast to the Pacific Ocean, much to the dismay of another Florida resident who has convinced a not-insignificant number of gullible voters that he lost the 2020 election because of chicanery.

But while DeSantis tiptoes softly through that minefield, Republicans see a skilled politician who may be the party’s best chance to return to the White House two years hence. That politician receives appropriate praise for the right blend of instinct about what will best sell to the GOP base and beyond.

That politician has become a phenomenon.

We refer, of course, to Casey DeSantis — the Florida Politics Politician of the Year for 2022.

Wait! What?? Don’t you mean Gov. Ron DeSantis?

Nope. He’s OK, too, at what he does — if you’re into that sort of thing.

However, there is a growing sense that without his wife Casey by his side, Ron DeSantis would just be Texas U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott or Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley. Just another MAGA Ivy Leaguer who senses Donald Trump’s blood is in the water.

Casey is the difference-maker, both publicly and privately.

“It’s clear she’s the X Factor,” Scott Parkinson, one of Ron’s former Chiefs of Staff in the U.S. House, told Business Insider. “They complete the political element that is Ron DeSantis. Without Casey, he would not be the same person.”

Publicly, she is the glamorous and compassionate mom of three and a devoted wife. Meanwhile, her husband can sometimes appear churlish and annoyed when questioned by reporters who want to know why he picked this fight or that one.

She became the face of the Governor’s response to Hurricane Ian, with photos of her hugging distraught homeowners who lost everything filling Instagram and other social media sites.

Casey also raised $45 million in short order for hurricane relief.

Her skills as a former TV anchor in Jacksonville came in handy too.

The campaign commercial she cut — reportedly ad-libbing with no script — about her husband’s care for her and her children during her battle with cancer with a drop-the-mic moment. It turned what would be a win for the Governor anyway into a Godzilla-like stomping of Democratic challenger Charlie Crist.

While she plays — but doesn’t overplay — the role of a dutiful wife and supporter of her husband, no one doubts her influence behind the closed doors of power.

The Governor keeps his circle right — Casey and maybe his Chief of Staff. In a story headlined “Ronny & Nancy of Tallahassee,” Puck reported she interviews nearly everyone seeking a high-level job in the administration.

“There’s an operating agreement between the two,” Democratic state Sen. Jason Pizzo told Insider. “She is his rock, his biggest supporter. I get the sense she really believes in where he’s going.”

Many assume the Governor has his GPS set for North and East to a city along the Potomac River. He has almost gone too far to turn back now on a presidential run — although anything can happen in politics, and 2024 is still two years away.

However, consider this: If he takes that path and is successful, Casey DeSantis likely will be a major reason why. She has shaped his image as a bare-knuckle brawler against “WOKE” culture, and that stance is unlikely to change. But she also is the softener in her husband’s hard-edge image about things with which he disagrees.

That won’t change, either.

And suppose one day that Ron DeSantis puts his hand on the Bible and promises to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution. In that case, his No. 1 asset will be at his elbow, beaming radiantly, and the TV commentators won’t stop themselves from comparing Casey to Jackie Kennedy.

That we can even imagine such a scene is a testament to Casey DeSantis’ political prowess. She might not have been on the ballot, but her skill as a tactician and politician is undeniable.

That’s why she’s the Florida Politics Politician of the Year.

Editor’s note: This selection is the consensus of the staff of Florida Politics, with this column authored by our retired colleague Joe Henderson.

Peter Schorsch

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including Florida Politics and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Schorsch is also the publisher of INFLUENCE Magazine. For several years, Peter's blog was ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.


33 comments

  • ScienceBLVR

    December 22, 2022 at 10:19 am

    Ugh! I’m normally a staunch supporter of strong and intelligent women, and even though it’s quite clear why you selected Mrs. DeSantis, I can’t help but feel if women like her rail against imaginary “Wokeness”, we’ve lost the battle for truth and respect in Florida. But to me, even worse than watching her go down that rabbit hole, is her unwavering support of her husband’s bullying and authoritarianism. I just don’t expect that from a woman who could easily be admired for being on the right side of issues, but instead chooses to pander to the hateful aspects of society her husband panders to. Just say No, Casey!

    • Boaz

      December 22, 2022 at 5:46 pm

      Not according to left-wing comedian Bill Maher, who repeatedly opines that “Wokeness” is real and is a manifestation of the authoritarian left.

      • Joe Corsin

        December 23, 2022 at 8:13 am

        Woke is just the bare minimum of how people should treat each other in a civilized society. Do you realize that? By God you people are animals with poor culture. Apes have better culture and more sense.

        • Annejone

          January 2, 2023 at 3:36 pm

          The mother of one of my friends’ friends works at a computer and makes $150 per hour (Personal Computer). She hasn’t had a job in a while, but this month she worked on her computer for 9 hours a day and made $11,500. For further details,

          view this article———————>>> 3c5.com/8ca8n

    • Boaz

      December 23, 2022 at 12:48 am

      Is it acceptable to be overtly sexist if the person being criticized or subjected to ad hominem attacks is a Republican? The hypocrisy and many contradictions of the authoritarian left.

  • Florida Going in Reverse

    December 22, 2022 at 11:59 am

    I get that this publication wants to see DeSantis succeed and do big things as a way to juice readership, but c’mon. DeSantis is the absolute worst. This publication’s obsession with him is very off-putting for the many readers who are not drinking the Kool-Aid. He’s done a number of very bad and immoral things, and he will continue to do bad and immoral things. This paper should be calling him out, not celebrating his rise.

    • Jolen

      December 22, 2022 at 2:48 pm

      Total agreement. DeSatan is BAD for Florida and would be a disaster for our country.

  • ave

    December 22, 2022 at 4:02 pm

    My buddy mother makes $50 per hour working on the computer (Personal Computer). She hasn’t worked for av-02 in a while, but this month she earned $11,500 by spending nine hours a day working on her own computer.
    See this article for additional information———————>>> slgi.nl/80XFbp2m

  • Joe Corsin

    December 22, 2022 at 4:52 pm

    Absolute nonsense

    • cassandra

      December 23, 2022 at 10:56 am

      100%
      Pretty sure FP appreciates your comment, Joe!

      FP writers: Thank you for the satire at the end of a difficult year. Ron and his base will be ecstatic reading your words. But Casey will get it. Good to see you get it too.

  • Boaz

    December 22, 2022 at 5:39 pm

    Apparently, the vast majority — hence, a supermajority — of Florida voters do not agree with any of you. Are you suggesting democracy does not work unless the candidate of your subjective preference wins? Yet, it is exactly that same aspersion you all use when Republicans lose elections and then have sour grapes about it afterwards.

    • Elliott Offen

      December 23, 2022 at 8:11 am

      A vast majority would be like 80% of all people voted Republican. That’s not happening. I suppose there is a tendency to believe you people are in some “right wing safe zone” or something especially after the TRUMP FLOP and the RED FLOP of 2022, but that’s not the case. You neo fascists and religious extremists will continue to be pummeled for the next 40 years because of what Trump has tried to do. Your right wing police state will not save you because it’s corrupt.

      • Boaz

        January 6, 2023 at 4:58 pm

        According to today’s Tampa Bay Times, “for the first time since the late 1800s, not a single Democrat will hold a statewide office. Republicans gained supermajorities in both the state House and Senate.” Hence, a supermajority is what it is. To suggest otherwise is typical Orwellian doublespeak from the authoritarian left.

  • Jetta

    December 22, 2022 at 10:44 pm

    The mostly effusive Insider article also hit her with a very appropriate backhanded comparison to Phyllis Schlafly. Casey DeSantis is obviously a woman who closes doors and pulls up ladders behind her as she plots her/husband’s rise to power. The comparison to Schlafly and her grotesque legacy is no compliment. I take solace in the fact that Gen Z–the generation who played a part in slowing down the forecasted red wave this past midterm–sees through women like her.

  • David in Shoreline

    December 22, 2022 at 11:19 pm

    I love the Gov and I’m pretty thrilled with his wife too! Too bad FLOTUS can’t also serve as VP. (Wait, can she?!?!?)

  • cassandra

    December 23, 2022 at 12:13 am

    Thank you for the satire. You must have had a great—and giggleful — time writing it. You use the words that Ron and his fringe base want to hear, so it will be lost on them, but Casey will get it. For the rest of us it is humorous in a sad kind of way.

    You are correct that Ron is an empty, whiny, little man who runs from the press, jerks his head around whenever he’s confronted but is unable to retaliate (like in the debate), and has absolutely no personality. It’s true that he would be nothing without Casey and her ambitions. It’s not teamwork. It’s just Casey pulling the strings on a wooden puppet.

    But it’s so disappointing that Casey prostitutes herself and her children in an attempt to get *herself* into the White House. She plays the role of “dutiful wife”, but in doing that she *is* of course overplaying the role of a wife or a woman—embarrassingly so, as your comment makes clear.

    Reading your article ties a lot together: Ron being talked about as smart, yet his speaking in an awkward and childish manner, his apparent confusion, his avoidance of reporters and voters, the way he looks around at his audience —clearly seeking approval, but (to me anyway) looking almost surprised when he gets it then quickly looking impressed by himself—like a kid in a school play.

    Thanks for the laugh, although it’s not at all a satisfying one.

    • Boaz

      January 3, 2023 at 6:24 pm

      60% of the electorate is not a fringe base. To suggest otherwise is typical Orwellian doublespeak from the authoritarian left.

      • cassandra

        January 4, 2023 at 9:01 pm

        You sound confused, Boaz. The 60% is not made up entirely of Ron’s fringe base. Far from it! But it is only the fringe–like you–who will read this article and think it is praising Casey and Ronald. It’s not.

  • Bill

    December 23, 2022 at 8:42 am

    Her acting ability in those campaign ads before the election definitely deserve an Oscar but aside from that, politician of the year seems more like an insult than an award especially seeing as she’s not a politician. I guess it’s a slow news day.

  • James R. Miles

    December 23, 2022 at 1:39 pm

    DeSaten is a SCUM BAG and so is his wife!! Tons of reasons for his scum bag status which I won’t get into again. At the very least he is a national embarrassment for Floriduh!!

  • Boaz

    December 30, 2022 at 3:51 pm

    Your dystopian vision of a right-wing police state is delusional fiction at best and intellectually dishonest at worst. Democrats control most of the levers of power “for the next 40 years.” If so, the only police state that can arise is from the authoritarian left — the real neo-fascists. And now 80% is the newly manufactured definition of supermajority. The Democrats have certainly never reached this new standard of the neo-fascist authoritarian left (many of whom are racists and anti-Semites themselves). We all know how they love rewriting history and changing the definition of words (Orwellian); but they also love moving the goal posts, as it were.

  • Liam

    December 31, 2022 at 5:00 pm

    Cassandra you put into words exactly what I have been thinking about Casey and your descriptions of her husband is perfect – especially his discomfort during debate. The way they used their kids as pawns in that ad supporting Trump is disgusting. Then every single one after that were just as repulsive or comical. This “power couple” has not been good to FL nor will they be good in the White House. I wish more Floridians could see through the nonsense, hatred and vision he distracts with and realize he is leaving the state’s problems for the “next guy.” He owes too many people too many favors for his campaign coffers to be working for the every day people in FL.

    • Boaz

      January 4, 2023 at 11:36 am

      Nonsense. He has allocated more money for the environment, public safety, education, etc., than any of his predecessors, Democrat or Republican. It’s good to see a vast majority of Floridians (via a historic electoral landslide) can see through hyperpartisan nonsense and generally approve of him and his policies. He’s a war hero, having earned the Bronze Star while assigned to Navy SEALS overseas. He graduated Yale with honors and Harvard law school with honors. His wife is a brave cancer survivor and has worked to bring much-needed awareness and donations to cancer research. Shame on you. The authoritarian left knows no decency in slandering and defaming their political opponents. Let’s hope they treat their friends, family, and neighbors any better; but I doubt it.

      • Vince Edwards

        January 4, 2023 at 6:26 pm

        He was an attorney assigned to the Navy Seals from the fall of 2007 to the spring of 2008. He earned his Bronze Star for meritorious service as legal counsel to a SEAL commander during the 2007 surge of US troops. Bronze Star medals usually include a “V” for valor if earned in combat.

      • cassandra

        January 4, 2023 at 10:14 pm

        LOL, Desantis’ *ONLY* war is his non-stop CULTURE WAR. He’s not a war hero. He was a lawyer! Sure Desantis plays dress-up in a Junior Fighter Pilot costume, but his kid took that back for Halloween.

        He was commissioned *years* after 9/11; He didn’t race off to defend America as his ads imply. Desantis is not a SEAL. He only advised SEALS. Desantis’ Bronze Star was for prosecuting Court Martial cases of enlisted service people–you know, the people doing the work. Prior to that, he was assigned to the urine testing lab.

        True, the Pronoun Prince did graduate from ELITE NORTHEASTERN SCHOOLS, with “WOKE” ideology! That’s where *his* kids will go too! Just not yours–they won’t learn enough in Desantis’ Florida FreeDUMB schools..

        • Devaluing the value and merit of the Bronze Star is a new low fi

          January 5, 2023 at 8:44 am

          How presumptuous you are of my dispositions! Yet, it’s a typical trait of the authoritarian left. I have never voted for Trump — a lifelong Democrat who praised Britain’s dysfunctional National Health Service (NHS) as the universal-healthcare model to be emulated in these United States until he decided to run for President by seeking the Republican nomination. I contend that you may be the one who is confused, not I.

          • cassandra

            January 5, 2023 at 2:39 pm

            You still seem confused, Boaz. But that’s OK because now I am too! Is there a reason that you are ranting about Trump and the NHS? The Bronze Star? We both know that medal will never recover after being pinned on Ron’s jacket.

  • Ronald Crump

    January 1, 2023 at 2:40 pm

    See the above comments only if you enjoy leftist heads exploding and the fecal matter spewing forth from their leftist potty mouths.

  • Hope

    January 5, 2023 at 12:50 am

    Faith, hope, grace, and joy transcends all political parties. Best First Lady in America!!

    • Boaz

      January 6, 2023 at 5:09 pm

      Cassandra, your purposeful yet impotent attempt to devalue one of the highest medals that may be bestowed by the U.S. military says more about you and your self‐serving rationalizing rants that it does about the Bronze Star and all its honorable veterans to whom it has been awarded — all of whom you have insulted. Shame on you. Have you shared your opinions about the Bronze Star at a local VFW or American Legion. I suspect not.

  • Vince Edwards

    January 6, 2023 at 6:11 pm

    “The Army alone awarded over 170,000 Bronze Star Medals in Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom, only 4,500 of which had the accompanying “V” device, which denotes exceptional valor.

    Colloquially named, “blanket awards,” many unit commanders awarded their troops’ end-of-tour awards based solely on military grade.” E-7s and above received Bronze Stars regardless of what they did.

    Things were different during previous wars. My Dad had to drive a truck across makeshift pontoon bridges during nighttime blackouts without headlights to locate fuel supplies for his battalion during WWII as they approached Berlin to get his Bronze Star. He never talked about it.

    Source: https://foreignpolicy.com/2016/01/21/the-other-stolen-valor/

    • cassandra

      January 8, 2023 at 11:52 am

      We owe your father and all who fought in that war so much. Thank you.

      • Vince Edwards

        January 8, 2023 at 2:54 pm

        I appreciate your kind words.

Comments are closed.


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