As the 44-year-old governor sets his eyes on a second term, Ms DeSantis has been actively stumping for her husband of more than 10 years, touring the state from the Panhandle to the Keys to promote her recently launched political effort, aptly titled, Mamas for DeSantis.
When unveiled this past summer, the rallying effort played heavily on the personal story of Ms DeSantis.
A 42-year-old cancer survivor, she shares on the website for the effort how “thankful” the state of Florida is to “finally” have a “pro-family leader” in the governor’s mansion, playing up the governor’s controversial parental rights agenda.
“Governor DeSantis has spent three and a half years enacting policies in support of our families. Because of his leadership, the Sunshine State has thrived,” writes Ms DeSantis on the website, which hopes to sign up a million ‘mamas’ across the state of Florida to hopefully become “the largest movement of parents in Florida history”.
“In Florida, we are blunting Biden’s assault on America and standing up for Floridians,” writes Ms DeSantis in the closing pitch, highlighting how her own husband is innately aware of the pressures of everyday Floridians, being a father to three himself.
“Our Governor has accomplished more in his first term than most Governors in their entire term in office,” she adds.
On Election Day, Donald Trump lashed out at Ron DeSantis in threatening tones, mentioning that he knows more about the Florida governor than anyone – with the exception of the governor’s wife.
Here, The Independent breaks down everything we know about the first lady of Florida, Ms DeSantis.
Who is Casey DeSantis?
Born in Troy, Ohio, just 19 miles north of Dayton with a population of 26,000, Ms DeSantis went on to study in South Carolina where she graduated from the College of Charleston with a Bachelor of Science in economics.
After graduating from college, Ms DeSantis would go on to work for the PGA Tour as a producer and on-air host and would later move to local news where she worked as a newscaster and anchor for WJXT, an independent station in Jacksonville, Florida.
What was Ms DeSantis’ career like before becoming first lady of Florida?
While working in local news in Florida, Ms DeSantis held several roles at the independent station, including general assignment reporter, morning anchor and police reporter.
Her work in news media later earned her recognition at the Suncoast Emmy Awards, where she won for on-air talent in addition to receiving two more Emmy nominations, one of which was for a documentary called Champion, The JT Townsend Story about a high school football player.
In 2014, two years after her husband announced his first bid for Congress, Ms DeSantis was tapped to be the creator-moderator for The Chat, which was an hour-long panel discussion talk show that aired on Tegna’s Jacksonville stations WTLV and WJXX.
Her broadcast career also included hosting a daily talk show, called First Coast Living, and the weekly programme, The American Dream, which highlighted the work of local entrepreneurs.
How did the DeSantises meet?
Not unsurprisingly, the Florida governor and the first lady had their first meet-cute on a Sunshine State staple: a golf course.
While she was working as a newscaster in Florida, Ms DeSantis described in an interview with First Coast News in 2018 how she met her future husband at the driving range at the University of North Florida.
“I kept looking over my shoulder because I wanted the bucket of balls that somebody had left because my swing was so terrible,” she joked in the interview. “I needed as much practice as I could possibly get. As I’m looking over behind me, Ron is over there. He thinks I’m looking at him,” she added, relaying how she’d actually been “looking at the balls” but then, “Long story short we started to talk and that’s how we met.”
The pair married in 2010, just after Mr DeSantis received his honourable discharge from the military in February of that year.
Since then, the pair have welcomed three children into the world, which includes their eldest, Madison, 5, Mason, 4, and their most recent addition, daughter, Mamie, 2.
Ron and I are beyond blessed to welcome our new baby girl, Mamie to the world. At 7 lbs 4 oz she was the smallest of the bunch, but she is already holding her own. Madison and Mason are so excited for their new baby sister! pic.twitter.com/R4kgx9a8Ii
— Casey DeSantis (@CaseyDeSantis) March 30, 2020
Before moving into the governor’s mansion in Tallahassee, the pair resided in the wealthy seaside community of Ponte Vedra Beach in a home they purchased for $307,500 in 2009. The Associated Press revealed that that same home, which they sold for $460,000 in 2019, had shot up in value by an estimated 50 per cent due to the booming post-Covid housing market. Just last year – two years after the couple closed on their deal – it was reportedly worth $692,000.
How was she received when she was introduced to Florida politics?
Ms DeSantis was introduced to the Florida electorate as the wife of the then-campaigning nominee for governor in 2018 in an ad. In the short, she painted her husband as a family man who had both her and the then-president –Donald Trump – seal of approval.
“Everyone knows my husband Ron DeSantis is endorsed by President Trump. But he’s also an amazing dad. Ron loves playing with the kids,” Ms DeSantis said in the 2018 ad, according to Florida Politics.
The news outlet also highlighted how Ms DeSantis likely needed little introduction for herself, commenting ahead of the ad’s release that she was “one of the most recognisable faces on Jacksonville television with long runs at two local news operations”.
The outlet also speculated at the time that Ms DeSantis would likely play an outsized role in her husband’s bid for the governor’s mansion and would assume a more “powerful surrogate” position rather than fading into the background and posing for photo-ops when called upon.
“Where most campaigns spend weeks prepping candidate’s non-politician spouses for an interview or two over the course of a campaign, there’s little worry that Casey, an Emmy Award winning TV host who certainly isn’t camera shy, will fumble her words or otherwise slip up in media appearances or stump speeches,” the outlet said while characterising her media-savviness.
The couple have been married since 2010, just two years before Mr DeSantis would launch his state political career and serve his first term in Congress representing Florida’s 6th Congressional District.
What causes are close to the first lady’s heart?
The first lady of Florida is frequently pictured arm-in-arm beside her husband, and was a prominent face seen throughout her husband’s tour of counties that were left wrecked from Hurricane Ian last month while she posted frequently on her own social media accounts to advertise the funds being raised for the Florida Disaster Fund.
“Excited to announce the Florida Disaster Fund has reached $50 million! Thank you to the incredible kindness from people all across the state and county to help Floridians impacted by Ian,” tweeted Ms DeSantis earlier last week.
Excited to announce the Florida Disaster Fund has reached $50 million!
Thank you to the incredible kindness from people all across the state and county to help Floridians impacted by Ian. pic.twitter.com/vVwItIg6v0
— Casey DeSantis (@CaseyDeSantis) October 24, 2022
Be it posing for photo-ops alongside the firebrand Republican governor or tweeting out her support of her husband’s initiatives, no matter how controversial, there are other initiatives that lie closer to the first lady’s heart.
For instance, when she and her husband first took over the governor’s mansion in Tallahassee, one of the first initiatives that she spearheaded was establishing the First Lady’s Medal for Courage, Commitment and Service.
In August 2020, she expanded a pilot program that assists individuals and families with resolving immediate needs or long-term goals contending with substance misuse, which according to an announcement from the first lady in the summertime has helped more than 30,000 Floridians “on their road to economic self-sufficiency”.
Through Hope Florida – A Pathway to Purpose, we're helping FL seniors by mobilizing Hope Hero volunteers to support those in need — we cannot thank them enough for their quick action, kindness and compassion.
To get involved, call 800-96-ELDER or visit https://t.co/ApOWydFeep.
— Casey DeSantis (@CaseyDeSantis) October 1, 2022
All that work aside, she is not afraid to step into the limelight to vouch for her husband’s more divisive policies.
When a local newspaper accused the Florida governor of “weaponising” school board races by inserting his education agenda into the matter, Ms DeSantis waited no time in firing back.
“Moms & Dads across Florida know that the @RonDeSantisFL education agenda is about student success, parental rights, & curriculum transparency. We stand for education, NOT indoctrination,” she tweeted in the summertime, hinting at the Republican governor’s so-called “Don’t Say Gay” act that limited educators’ abilities to discuss LGBTQ+ related content inside the classroom for some elementary-age children.
Weaponizing?! Since when is empowering parents and putting students first “weaponizing?”
Moms & Dads across Florida know that the @RonDeSantisFL education agenda is about student success, parental rights, & curriculum transparency. We stand for education, NOT indoctrination. pic.twitter.com/u2hSlsm6gz
— Casey DeSantis (@CaseyDeSantis) June 17, 2022
The rhetoric harnessed by Ms DeSantis’ rallying platform, Mamas for DeSantis, frequently invokes common tropes of the painting the “radical left” as a zealotry beset on indoctrinating children’s classrooms.
FL rejects the Left's attempt to diminish the greatness of America.
We stand for education NOT indoctrination. That's why we need to elect school board members who stand for the DeSantis Education Agenda — civics, increased teacher pay & parental rights.https://t.co/kd9ygzfV8P
— Casey DeSantis (@CaseyDeSantis) June 30, 2022
“Mama bears across the state REJECT the radical Left’s attempts to infiltrate classrooms and the minds of our children,” tweeted Ms DeSantis recently.