TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A Florida congressman who has the backing of President Donald Trump is jumping into a crowded contest for governor.
Rep. Ron DeSantis announced Friday that he will file the paperwork to make his campaign official. Gov. Rick Scott is leaving office in early 2019 due to term limits.
DeSantis is entering the race two weeks after Trump tweeted that DeSantis is "a brilliant young leader" who "would make a GREAT governor."
The 39-year-old politician is a U.S. Navy veteran and graduate of both Yale and Harvard who has represented a northeast Florida congressional district since 2013.
DeSantis took a swipe at other Republicans in his initial campaign announcement. He said he would "drain the swamp in Tallahassee that needs to be drained." Republicans have controlled state government for 20 years.
The Democratic Governors Association called DeSantis Trump's "hand-picked candidate" for Florida governor.
“DeSantis was a strong supporter of Trump’s disastrous health care and tax policies in Congress, and now he wants to bring the president’s agenda to Florida," DGA communications director Jared Leopold said. "His announcement accelerates this brutal and expensive Republican primary race to appeal to the far-right fringe."
DeStantis will be in Orlando Saturday speaking at the Republican Party of Florida's annual meeting.
His announcement to run for governor will no doubt be a popular conversation topic, News 6 political analyst Dr. Jim Clark said.
"Florida is a bubble state a purple state can go red can go blue and I think this is one of those years that it could go either way," Clark said.
Clark also predicts the 2018 race will boil down to two main contenders, DeSantis and Florida's Agriculture commissioner Adam Putnam.
"The Congressman has President Trump, he is going to be able to tap into the financial network, the Fox News viewer ship, but Putnam has spent 8 years traveling around the state," Clark said.
DeSantis also plans to set up his campaign headquarters in downtown Orlando.