Controversial House Rep Set to Replace DeSantis

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Behind closed doors, the race to replace term-limited Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is taking shape, apparently led by a pro-Trump representative from the state.

Several talks in Tallahassee over the past several days have focused on the possibility that Rep. Matt Gaetz could run for Florida governor in 2026, including on Sunday night at an event for the next speaker of the Florida House.

Gaetz has long topped the shortlist of candidates who will pursue the Republican nomination for governor.

At a reception on Saturday for the designation ceremony of Miami Republican state Representative Danny Perez, who will serve as speaker of the Florida House starting next year, Gaetz was reportedly viewed as “holding court”.

“There was a lot of talk about it at the reception last night, and Gaetz was telling people to basically expect him to be in,” one longtime Florida Republican lobbyist said.

Publicly, Gaetz has downplayed the possibility of running for governor.

“Many did encourage me to consider running for governor one day,” Gaetz said. “But we have an outstanding governor who will be in that position through 2026.”

“My only political focus right now is Trump 2024,” he added.

While the two have since fallen out, Gaetz was a top advisor to DeSantis during his 2018 gubernatorial run. Gaetz has since become one of the most vocal backers of former President Donald Trump, who is running against DeSantis for president in 2024.

“He will be running in a large field. He could win with 30 percent,” John Morgan, a prominent Florida trial attorney, said. “Trump’s endorsement alone gets him that.”

A Florida Republican operative agreed, saying “I think Gaetz is an instant front-runner and from what I hear he’s already won the Trump primary.”

Trump has not directly commented on the future election, but his endorsement played a huge role in DeSantis’ initial election in the 2018 Republican primary.

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