Casey DeSantis, then Casey Black – a local television reporter – first met Ron DeSantis at a University of North Florida driving range in Jacksonville in March of 2010.
Working on her bad swing, she spied an abandoned half-filled bucket of balls a few stalls over that someone had left behind. She kept glancing over to see if anyone was coming back to claim them. She promises she was eyeing the bucket – but Ron DeSantis thought she was looking at him. Emboldened by what he thought was her interest in him, he introduced himself.
Was she immediately attracted to the then naval officer?
“I thought he was cute,” she admitted. They marred in September of 2010.
A little over twelve years later and two hundred miles to the south, Casey Black DeSantis stood beaming beside her husband this past Tuesday night in front of a large, wall-size American flag and before cheering supporters in Tampa, Fla. The Florida’s incumbent governor enthusiastically celebrated his landslide victory over Charlie Crist, the former chief executive of the Sunshine State.
Mrs. DeSantis’ silence by her husband’s side on Tuesday night shouldn’t be taken to suggest she’s a passive or uninvolved first lady of the state. In fact, many have pointed out that Casey DeSantis has redefined the role, lending her time, talents and energies to such things as raising funds for cancer research and assisting with disaster relief. She loves the role, and especially cherishes the opportunity to support her husband.
“She is not only his closest and smartest adviser — she is his secret weapon,” said Jared Moskowitz, a Democrat who was just elected to Congress for Florida’s 23rd District. “She really excels in the situations where people need to see leadership and comfort and understanding.”
There is often some mystery attached to spouses of high-profile politicians, but that’s not the case with Casey DeSantis, who for almost two decades was in the public eye as a television journalist. For fifteen years she hosted the popular Florida television program, “First Coast Living” – a friendly, magazine type interview show that highlighted Floridians and local happenings. She also worked as an anchor and reporter for the PGA Tour.
Now 42 years of age, Casey DeSantis is a busy mom juggling responsibilities at home with her role as First Lady of Florida. The DeSantis’ have three young children – two daughters, Madison (5) and Mamie (2), and a son, Mason (4).
Last year, the DeSantis’ revealed that Casey had been diagnosed with breast cancer. Extensive treatment followed and the governor happily announced earlier this year that his wife was now cancer free.
A native of Ohio, Mrs. DeSantis landed in Florida for a role on television, but not before graduating from the College of Charleston in South Carolina with a degree in Economics and a minor in French. She excelled as a student, joining the International Economics Honors Society. During her time in television news, she was awarded an Emmy.
Governor DeSantis regularly lauds his wife. In a podcast interview this past January, he said, “If I wasn’t in office, I’d be working to make money in business, but she would be on Fox News.” He’s called her “my best friend and best supporter.”
Families of politicians are often an oversight for the press, sometimes seen as mere props to garner votes. But it’s important to remember that most elected officials – like most everyone else – are juggling a bevy of responsibilities at home and at the office. Only politicians are forced to balance their competing priorities in full public view.
Committed Catholics, the DeSantis family have spoken openly about the centrality of their faith in their lives.
Families of elected officials play an oversized role in the representative’s success or failure. Somebody once said that no success at the office will ever compensate for failure at home. As we pray for our elected officials, let’s also remember to pray for their families, too – especially their spouses and children who bear an especially heavy burden supporting them.