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Monday, May 27, 2024

After the Hurricane in Florida, the Governor’s Wife Will Play a Prominent Role

The morning after Hurricane Ian struck Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis shared the platform with his emergency management director and his wife, Casey, who touted a state disaster relief fund collecting contributions for hurricane victims and recovery efforts. Twelve hours and two further public appearances later, Ms. DeSantis revealed that the fund had raised over $10 million.

“We are going to make a huge impact by sending resources directly to those who need them the most,” she stated on September 29 while thanking Amazon, Walmart, and more than a dozen other prominent firms in and out of the state, as well as Tom Brady, who promoted the fund on Twitter.

In the wake of the hurricane, Ms. DeSantis has stayed in the public eye, often appearing with her husband, a probable Republican presidential candidate who is up for re-election next month. Wednesday, the pair joined President Biden and First Lady Jill Biden in Fort Myers as the Bidens observed the terrible devastation caused by the Category 4 hurricane.

Despite the fact that she does not have a formal role on the board of Volunteer Florida, a tax-exempt state commission focused on community service initiatives, Ms. DeSantis, age 42, has become the face of Florida’s attempts to collect charity contributions in the aftermath of Ian’s death. The governor’s office said shortly after the September 28 hurricane that Ms. DeSantis had “activated” the commission’s disaster assistance fund. Mr. DeSantis has stressed the significance of individual contributions, despite the fact that Florida is also requesting major assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

“With FEMA, you either qualify for specific forms of individual assistance or you don’t,” he said, adding that private groups “are a little more flexible in how they support individuals.”

Since then, Ms. DeSantis has updated Mr. DeSantis’ briefings on the fund and participated in volunteer activities for disaster victims. Wednesday, Florida’s Republican lieutenant governor tweeted that “Casey DeSantis’ Disaster Fund” contributed to the state’s “unprecedented” response to Hurricane Ian.

Mr. DeSantis thanked his wife, who stood a few feet away, before introducing the president on Wednesday, saying, “We’ve now organised private organisations with a lot of money — and rising — to support individuals in truly difficult situations.”

“She is not only his closest and most intelligent advisor, but also his hidden weapon,” said Jared Moskowitz, a Democrat who worked as Mr. DeSantis’ head of emergency management until last year and is now running for Congress. “She shines in circumstances when individuals want leadership, comfort, and understanding.”

Other governors’ wives, such as Fran DeWine in Ohio and Marty Kemp in Georgia, have played prominent roles in their husbands’ administrations, positions that warrant their own press releases. Mary Pat Christie, the wife of New Jersey’s ex-governor Chris Christie, presided over a state relief fund after Hurricane Sandy in 2012. In Florida, however, Ms. DeSantis stands out among the spouses of prior Republican governors due to her disproportionate impact on her husband’s official and political undertakings.

In 2019, she and Mr. DeSantis’ chief of staff at the time pushed out members of the Republican Party of Florida who were seen to be more loyal to then-President Donald J. Trump and his advisors than to Mr. DeSantis.

Casey DeSantis, previously known as Casey Black, was a local Jacksonville television anchor when she met Mr. DeSantis, a fellow golf aficionado, on a driving range. The couple wed in 2010. Two years later, Mr. DeSantis was elected to Congress, where his reputation for aloofness preceded him. Donors to Mr. DeSantis’s campaign are known to gush about his wife’s exuberance. Mr. DeSantis has never been much of a charmer.

She has counselled Mr. DeSantis, 44, on media strategy and communications in particular, use her skills in television to weigh in on how his administration should communicate with right-leaning media.

On Thursday, the governor’s office stated that approximately $35 million had been donated to the disaster relief fund.

Jonathan James
Jonathan James
I serve as a Senior Executive Journalist of The National Era
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