The Florida governor has officially filed papers to run for president, thus beginning the work of trying to convince Republicans that he has what it takes to defeat Trump in the GOP primary
The Florida governor filed paperwork to run with the Federal Election Commission on Wednesday afternoon, confirming longtime rumors that he has been priming himself to earn the Republican Party's nomination.
He is expected to ceremoniously launch his campaign alongside Elon Musk on Twitter Spaces Wednesday evening.
Long before his announcement, DeSantis was considered a top contender in the 2024 race, although he previously downplayed his intentions and said he was simply focused on getting reelected as governor.
"I just do my job and we work hard," he told reporters in September 2021, per Fox News. "I hear all this stuff and honestly it's nonsense."
DeSantis and Donald Trump have built similar bases throughout their political careers, putting the Florida leader in a position to challenge Trump for the nomination — and seemingly sparking a rivalry between the two.
"Ron DeSantis is popular with Florida Republican voters, which is a good indication of how he would do nationally," a political source told PEOPLE in 2022. "He is not afraid to speak out on unpopular issues, and even more important than that, he is not afraid of Donald Trump."
Another source close to Trump agreed that their rift has caused political turmoil.
"Donald thinks DeSantis owes his political career to him, and this has caused political friction," Trump's longtime New York business friend told PEOPLE. "Plus, they were never close friends. They never mixed well."
In many polls conducted during 2022, DeSantis had near-equal support as Trump, but the Florida governor seems to have lost some ground with voters over time. A CBS News-YouGov poll released in early May revealed that, while DeSantis is still the most likely Republican to overtake Trump, he only has 22% of support to Trump’s 58%.
Some recent profiles paint the governor as socially awkward or uncomfortable — something even fellow Republicans seized on ahead of DeSantis' expected presidential campaign announcement.
In an official statement, the campaign manager of former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, whoannounced her own bid for the Republican presidential nomination in February, called DeSantis, "Trump Without the Charm,” saying that the “glaring difference between the two is DeSantis’ inability to interact directly with voters.” (Trump himself has joked that DeSantis needs "an emergency personality transplant.")
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DeSantis has dominated headlines in recent times as the commander-in-chief of America's culture wars, restricting voting rights, enacting Florida's "Don't Say Gay" law, politicizing the concept of critical race theory, pushing to ban gender-affirming medical care, refusing to order COVID vaccines for young children, and scolding students wearing masks.
His extreme positions on things like book bans and abortions — and a more-than-year-long fight with Walt Disney World — have led some donors and top Republicans to distance themselves from the governor.
Prior to assuming the office of governor in 2019, DeSantis represented his Florida district in the U.S. House of Representatives, staying out of the spotlight for much of his tenure.
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