Ron DeSantis’ wife is calling campaign shots. And she’s not going to soften his extreme stances.

Ron DeSantis’ wife is calling campaign shots. And she’s not going to soften his extreme stances.
Casey DeSantis Photo: Casey DeSantis' Facebook page

As Ron DeSantis prepares to officially start his presidential campaign, his allies are referring to his wife, Casey, as his greatest campaign asset.

His detractors are calling her Lady Macbeth and “a vindictive motherf**ker.”

A recent profile of Casey DeSantis in Politico Magazine shows a sharp, charismatic woman who is ideally suited to counterbalance her husband’s well-documented social awkwardness. It also reveals a woman who so tightly connected to her husband’s career that many decisions seem to run through her as much as through her husband, to the fear of staff and to the detriment of his campaign.

Oddly enough, the two sides of Casey DeSantis’ personality have proven to be equally an asset and a liability to husband Ron.

“Does she sort of humanize the robot? Does she push him on the grip-and-grin, the baby-kissing, give him a cleaner, softer image? Yes,” one former gubernatorial staffer told Politico. “Does she also feed into his, I guess, worst instincts of being secluded and insular and standoffish with staff? Yes.”

Casey met her husband-to-be in 2006 when she was a television reporter and he was a Navy JAG. They married three years later at – get ready – Disney World.

From the start of Ron’s political career, Casey was intensely involved. Even though she was still a reporter, she went door to door to promote his first run for Congress in 2012, serving as an instantly recognizable face. “She was who impressed people really more than him,” former Jacksonville Mayor John Delaney said.

As future campaigns went on, Casey became more and more a part of them. She served as a media strategist, interviewing staffers. She even showed Ron how to use makeup to look telegenic and how to read off a teleprompter.

If Ron was ambitious, Casey was as well.  “I remember I once said [to a colleague], ‘Casey wants to be a senator’s wife.’ And he said, ‘No, she fully intends on being a president’s wife,’” a former WJXT staffer told Vanity Fair.

To staffers, it quickly became clear that they had two bosses: Ron and Casey.  “She was looped in on every email and calendar invite. If Casey said jump, we would pull out the trampoline,” a former congressional staffer told the magazine. Another said that Casey interviewed them for their position and that they didn’t even met Ron until their first day on the job.

As Ron’s primary counsel, Casey is the last word on what – and who – goes. That became very apparent when DeSantis was elected governor and Casey made it clear that she was going to have a say in key matters.

That included the woman who helped run DeSantis’ successful 2018 campaign, Susan Wiles. Wiles is well-connected in Florida, and her skill – along with Donald Trump’s endorsement – was a major factor in DeSantis’ victory.

To Ron and Casey, however, Wiles was not sufficiently loyal. They felt she was too closely aligned with Trump. After the election, they decided she had to go. And not just had to go, but had to be destroyed, reportedly trying to sideline her from getting any political work in Florida.

Wiles did work for Trump’s campaign in Florida in 2020, and she’s working for him again this time around. Trump ally Roger Stone says that the DeSantises firing Wiles is “a mistake that they might regret.”

More broadly, Casey’s tight control over Ron’s political circle means that turnover is high. Moreover, as the presidential campaign gets underway, DeSantis has to bring in operatives with the national experience he will need to win the nomination.

Meantime, if anyone’s thinking that Casey might soften some of her husband’s extremism, they’d be sorely mistaken. By all accounts, she’s every bit the right winger her husband is.

Dan Brown, a past arts editor of the Jacksonville alternative weekly, recounted to Vanity Fair that he was on Casey’s program discussing concert listings when Casey ripped the paper in two to show her disdain for a headline about Republicans.

“I was there to pitch a metal band, and she ripped up my paper onscreen. I was flustered,” Brown said. “I remember she looked at the paper and said, ‘What do you call this?’ I said something like, ‘It’s freedom of the press, sister.’”

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