During a recent chat about the prospects for incoming Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Tampa Republican activist Terry Castro made a point I hadn’t considered.
“One of the best tools he has going in his arsenal is Casey,” Castro said. “She is magnificent.”
That would be Casey DeSantis, who Tuesday will assume the title of Florida’s First Lady when her husband takes the oath of office in Tallahassee. As the time to the inauguration has gotten closer, her impact is coming into sharper focus.
Her husband will be the subject of intense media scrutiny for the next four years. He will get the headlines. But his wife has proved she is effective in smaller settings. That’s where impressions are formed.
Her experience as a television show host has made her comfortable in public settings. She clearly has confidence in that role, and that in turn will help her husband as he takes over leadership in Florida.
By contrast, Ann Scott preferred to stay in the background during Rick Scott’s two terms as Governor. She was a strong advocate for childhood reading programs and did a lot of charity work. Early on though, she wanted no part of public speaking.
From the look of things, Casey DeSantis has a different game plan. She has a pretty good story to tell, and the poise to do that.
She is only 38, glamorous, and the mother of two young children. She even campaigned last year while seven months pregnant. She was a champion equestrian while in college. Her work on TV in Jacksonville was recognized with an Emmy.
And now, she assumes the title of Florida’s First Lady.
She told reporters Monday that she will spend a lot of time listening to people’s concerns and won’t confine herself to a single cause or issue. She also showed some savvy when talking to reporters Monday.
First order: baby-proof the Governor’s mansion,
“I was thinking about this beautiful early 20th-century wallpaper,” she said. “Orange crayon wouldn’t look so good on that.”
Her approval rating among mothers just skyrocketed with that quip.
And it’s one thing to say she and her husband support cleaning up polluted Florida waterways. It’s another, though, to drive home that point in a personal way that shows, yep, she has been listening.
“ … as a mother, when you talk to people on the campaign trail, and they say, ‘I would never let my kid swim in that water,’ or they say, ‘I let my child swim in that water, and I wound up in the emergency room the next day,’ that’s not OK,” she said. “We’re gonna fix it. It just needs to be done because it’s the right thing.”
The eyes of Florida will be on this family, and that’s not always a good thing. It’s easy to be positive and smiling when things are going well. One thing we can say for certain is it won’t always be that way.
Ron DeSantis will need all the tools he can get to navigate the next four years successfully. The early returns on his biggest advocate seem to show to that Terry Castro got it right.