With the general election less than two months away, Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis resigned Monday from Congress to concentrate on his campaign against Democrat Andrew Gillum.
In a letter to U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan, DeSantis said the move is to “protect the taxpayers” as “it is clear to me that I will likely miss the vast majority of our remaining session days for this Congress.”
DeSantis, has represented Congressional District 6 since 2012, was paid $174,000 a year for the federal office. The district includes all of Flagler and Volusia and parts of St. Johns and Lake counties. DeSantis owned a house in Lakeside by the Sea in northern Flagler, made only rare appearances in Flagler since his election.
According to GovTrack, which tracks Congress, DeSantis had missed 4.2 percent of the roll call votes since January 2013, but the percentage has spiked to 53.8 percent since July.
In the letter, DeSantis, who has been heavily backed by President Donald Trump, said the resignation should be retroactive to Sept. 1 “so that I do not receive any pay for the month of September.”
DeSantis said resignation was in line with one of his “guiding principles,” which led him to reject his congressional pension and health-care subsidy.
“I’ve done my best to live these principles: I refused my pay during government shutdowns and have slept in my office to cut costs and be a more effective legislator,” DeSantis wrote.
The announcement comes six days after a Quinnipiac University poll found Gillum ahead of DeSantis, 50-47. The numbers are within the margin of error, but the poll also found that with independents, who will likely decide the race in the state, back Gillum 55-42. The poll also found that 97 percent of voters have already made up their mind. a Gravis Marketing poll released the same day found Gillum ahead of DeSantis, 47-45, and when the survey’s uncertain respondents were asked what choice they would make if they had to immediately, Gillum ran away with that that group, 45-16. FiveThirtyEight, the polling and analysis site, rates pollsters to reflect the quality of the polls. It gives Quinnipiac an A minus, and Gravis a C plus.
Democrats quickly criticized DeSantis, who was the subject Monday of a Washington Post story that said he “spoke four times at conferences organized by a conservative activist who has said that African Americans owe their freedom to white people and that the country’s ‘only serious race war’ is against whites.”
“Today, Ron DeSantis quit on the people of Florida, in an attempt to distract from a firestorm of controversy over his attendance at extremist conferences,” Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman Terrie Rizzo said in a statement. “Ron DeSantis can abandon his post, but he can’t avoid questions about why he chose to associate himself with hateful, fringe organizations.”
The liberal super PAC American Bridge called DeSantis’ move a “desperate stunt” that will fail to shift the focus on his “racist comments and affiliations with hate groups.”
In a Fox News interview after he won the Aug. 28 Republican gubernatorial primary, DeSantis drew allegations of racism from Democrats because of his use of the phrase “monkey this up.” DeSantis was discussing Gillum, the Tallahassee mayor who is the state’s first African-American candidate for governor and has run on a progressive platform.
“Let’s build off the success we’ve had under Gov. (Rick) Scott. The last thing we need to do is to monkey this up by trying to embrace a socialist agenda with huge tax increases, and bankrupting the state,” DeSantis told Fox. “That’s not going to work.”
DeSantis’ campaign at the time accused Democrats of mischaracterizing the comments.
“Ron DeSantis was obviously talking about Florida not making the wrong decision to embrace the socialist policies that Andrew Gillum espouses. To characterize it as anything else is absurd,” said Stephen Lawson, a spokesman for the campaign.
The Post reported that DeSantis’s four appearances at the annual Freedom Center conferences in Palm Beach, Fla., and Charleston, S.C., in 2013, 2015, 2016 and 2017, only one of which was previously reported, “are coming to light at a time when his positions on matters of race are under scrutiny. In three of the four speeches reviewed by The Washington Post, DeSantis delivered sharp-edged conservative criticism of Democratic policies without explicitly touching on race.”
Republican Michael Waltz and Democrat Nancy Soderberg are running in the Nov. 6 general election in Congressional District 6, which includes Volusia, Flagler and parts of St. Johns and Lake counties. Waltz is a businessman and former Army Green Beret, while Soderberg is a former U.S. ambassador.
Soderberg handily defeated two opponents in the Democratic primary, while Waltz received 42 percent of the vote to hold off former state Rep. Fred Costello and Palm Coast businessman John Ward in the GOP primary.
DeSantis reported a net worth of $301,971 as of Dec. 31, according to a financial disclosure filed in June with the state Division of Elections. His assets included a $400,000 home in Ponte Vedra Beach and a $275,000 home in Palm Coast.
–FlaglerLive and News Service of Florida
Oh great , A QUITER , just what Florida needs, someone who cant handle the responsibilities they have chosen for themselves so they quit.
Ron will win!
Run, Racist, Run! Another Trump wannabe.
Michael Cocchiola says
DeSantis is a radical Republican who has done nothing, absolutely nothing, for Flagler County. He will do a lot for Florida. He will kill health care for seniors. He will encourage the pollution of our rivers and streams so fisherman will have no fish to catch. He will ensure big business will prosper but working people will slowly sink into poverty. He will starve our public schools so our kids will receive a substandard education and will be unable to compete for jobs. and finally, he will help trump dismantle our democracy so trump can take over the country permanently. You know, a dictatorship.
DeSantis/Trump must be stopped now…in Florida! We can be heroes to the rest of the country and in fact all of the free world. STOP THESE TWO DICTATOR WANNABEES…VOTE GILLUM!
I say it is a toss up as to which way the gubernatorial election will go. Florida has been a swing state in the last four major elections. It just depends on how aggressive the states registered republicans decide to be and how lackadaisical the democrats choose to be. The important thing is to inform yourself about each candidate thoroughly and then vote for the person who you think will be the best for the state and you.
Stranger in a strange land says
DeSantis voted against the interests of Florida and his district many times to maintain a bullet proof conservative/tea party voting record. These votes were to benefit one Floridian, Ron DeSantis. Benefiting and promoting Ron Desantis. THAT is his “guiding principle”. When Trump’s “deficit be damned” tax cuts and explosion of spending blew into D.C. the Tea Party wave that put him into office was totally forgotten and left behind. Voting in favor of bills that will burden us and our children and probably create the next financial crisis. He viewed the Tea Party and his congressional district as a stepping stone to the betterment of Ron DeSantis and we all got stepped on. Thanks to Marco Rubio he missed the senatorial stepping stone. It is up to us to end this oppontunist politician’s ambitions. He will throw Florida under the bus in an instant if it benefits him.
Gillium should win!
So it’s old, White people vs Young voters and angry Puerto Ricans.. Should be interesting!
Ron would lick tRump’s a$$. Ron DeSantis is a rubber stamp for Trump. He would make a terrible Governor. Someone needs to ask Rick Scott, Ron DeSantis and others courting Peurto Rican votes in Florida if they agree with their president that 3000 people didn’t die due to Maria?
Not Dave says
Gillum has no chance.
DeSantis and Scott need to go away! Vote BLUE