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.
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.