Rep. Ron DeSantis has only been in elected office for two-and-a-half years, but the sophomore congressmen from Jacksonville has decided he's ready for the next step. Today, DeSantis announced his campaign for the senate seat soon to be vacated by Marco Rubio, becoming the first major Republican in the race.
Like Rubio, DeSantis is a Tea Party and conservative favorite and announced his decision with endorsement from three key groups: the Club For Growth, the Senate Conservatives Fund, and FreedomWorks, all of which are known for sticking to hardcore right-wing principals, and aren't afraid to criticize or take on mainstream Republicans who stray from them.
That isn't unusual for DeSantis. When he ran for the U.S. House in 2012, he snagged the endorsements of right-wing heroes like Donald Trump, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, RedState blogger Erick Erickson, and former U.S. ambassador John Bolton. He ended up crushing the competition in that six-way primary, besting his nearest competitor by 16 points.
He did not disappoint his conservative supporters. The National Review rated him the third most conservative congressman from Florida in 2013.
Before entering Congress, DeSantis spent time as a legal advisor in the Navy (literally a member of JAG) and as something of an online conservative columnist. He's been published in National Review Online, Human Events, and the Washington Times, among many other of your conservative uncle's favorite political sites. DeSantis also has degrees from Yale and Harvard, and was deployed to Iraq in 2007 as part of his Navy service.
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"America needs a new generation of leaders to address the big issues facing the country: alleviating the middle-class squeeze and promoting economic opportunity, confronting the significant national security challenges threatening the safety of our people, and reforming the culture of Washington, D.C.," reads his announcement statement. “As a candidate for Senate, I look forward to offering reforms based on limited government principles that will make our country stronger and more prosperous.”
Florida Democrats quickly scrutinized DeSantis' record. "Congressman Ron DeSantis, the poster-boy for Washington’s partisan extremism and dysfunction, is in for a rude awakening when he takes his Tea Party record on the road in Florida,” shot back Florida Democratic chairwoman Allison Tant.
Establishment Democrats, meanwhile, have coalesced behind DeSantis's House colleague Patrick Murphy as their favored candidate, who is, incidentally, the most conservative Florida Democrat in the House
DeSantis remains relatively unknown outside of his district and will have to work hard to gain name recognition.