Alex Kelly named Gov. DeSantis’ Acting Chief of Staff after James Uthmeier leaves for campaign

Alex-Kelly uthmeier
The shift comes as Uthmeier takes a leave of absence to run DeSantis' presidential campaign.

Commerce Secretary Alex Kelly is stepping in as Acting Chief of Staff for Gov. Ron DeSantis. The shift in duties comes as DeSantis’ longtime Chief of Staff takes over operations at the Governor’s presidential campaign.

James Uthmeier is taking a leave of absence from the Executive Office of the Governor to manage the Governor’s presidential campaign,” said Jeremy Redfern, DeSantis’ Press Secretary in his official state capacity.

“Secretary of Commerce Alex Kelly will be Acting Chief of Staff, working alongside Senior Advisor David Dewhirst.”

Questions about the political side were directed to the campaign, which earlier today confirmed Uthmeier would replace DeSantis’ former Campaign Manager, Generra Peck. Uthmeier has served as DeSantis Chief of Staff since late 2021, and before that served as General Counsel to the Governor’s Office.

Kelly, meanwhile, just moved from the Executive Office of the Governor to the state Commerce Department earlier this year. He had served as a Deputy Chief of Staff for the Governor since April 2021.

Before that, he worked as Chief of Staff to then-Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran. Kelly also has ties to former Gov. Jeb Bush, and served as Vice President for the Foundation for Excellence in Education, a school choice advocacy group run by the former Governor.

Dewhirst, meanwhile, joined the Governor’s Office in May as a senior consultant.

He also works for the Heritage Foundation in Washington as part of the 2025 Presidential Transition Project, or Project 2025. That’s an effort by the group to make sure the next Republican elected President is ready for the job on the first day.

The conservative group, of course, wants that to be in 2025 after a Republican nominee wins the election next year.

Before working for DeSantis, Dewhirst worked in Idaho as Chief Deputy Attorney General and in Montana as Solicitor General.

He also served as principal deputy counsel to the U.S. Commerce Department under President Donald Trump, advising then-Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].


  • Dont Say FLA

    August 8, 2023 at 12:56 pm

    A leave of absence is not a resignation. Gaycakes Uthmeier should resign. Everyone knows it’s the law in Florida: Resign to Run.

    Gaycakes wasn’t exempted from Resign to Run. Only Rhonda was exempted.

    Lock him up!

    • Ron Forrest Ron

      August 8, 2023 at 1:03 pm

      Gay cakes?

      Uthmeier is best known for having refused to answer more than 100 questions during an interview with the House Oversight and Reform Committee during an inquiry into the decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 US census.

      100 questions. Zero answers. No Answers Uthmeier. He is definitely the right guy for the DeSantis campaign.

      • Leah Majors

        August 8, 2023 at 1:06 pm

        100 questions. Zero answers. This appointment has “fall guy” written all over it.

        Mr. Uthmeier must not have been given a choice whether to accept this position.

        If true, that might be construed by some as an abuse of power by Ron DeSantis, forcing this Florida state government employee into a campaign role “or else.”

    • Earl Pitts "The Ronald's UnOfficial Campaign Manager" American

      August 8, 2023 at 2:59 pm

      Love you Son/Daughter,
      Listen Pumpkin Dad’s having some problems on-boarding this new guy James to be the public face of the campaign. Could you please stop by the office and help me?
      Thanks Dad

      • Dont Say FLA

        August 8, 2023 at 3:13 pm

        Don’t worry about it, pops. Ron heard what James was saying behind their back, so now James is Fall Guy. If the DeSantis campaign continues its trajectory, it’s all Utheimer’s fault.

        It’s definitely not Glenda Peck’s fault. Definitely not Ron DeSantis’ fault. It’s all Utheimer’s fault!

        Alex has been doing such a great job at stand-in for James, we’ll just keep Alex on board and say goodbye to Mr Utheimer.

        Worst case scenario ONLY, of course. Utheimer’s gonna be the one to turn it around.

  • PeterH

    August 8, 2023 at 1:12 pm

    Toddlers once played “musical chairs” at childhood birthday celebrations. Today’s GQP candidates play musical chairs on the Klown Bus!

    Republicans are America’s biggest problem!

    Vote all Republicans out of office!

  • Mike Pents

    August 8, 2023 at 1:46 pm

    Alex Kelly should have followed my example and refused to participate in a scheme that smells so bad the neighbors are complaining.

  • Earl Pitts "The Ronald's UnOfficial Campaign Manager" American

    August 8, 2023 at 2:51 pm

    Dont worry America,
    I, Earl Pitts American, will be making all the decisions and watching the budget of the campaign. The young whippersnapper will just be the public face. Everything will still be under my, Earl Pitts American’s oversight.
    Excuse me America; “No James just order 2 new stapelers and we have plenty of scotch tape already in the store room”. “And no James you can never wear a bow tie as it presents a sissy-boy persona”. No James you cant bring your dog to work”. Hold on there James a minute…(shhhhh America pray for me) “No James…………..
    Earl Pitts “Relax America I Got This American

  • Joe

    August 8, 2023 at 3:16 pm

    Pretty sweet cold-sore for Uthmeier up top in the header pic.

    • Dont Say FLA

      August 8, 2023 at 5:34 pm

      Ya know what that means. Rhonda has arse hair piece!

Comments are closed.


Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Drew Dixon, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Cole Pepper, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704

Sign up for Sunburn


This is default text for notification bar