The Stunning Transformation Of Casey DeSantis - The List (2024)


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ByHannah LaFond/

Since his nomination to Florida Governor, Ron DeSantis has become one of the most controversial politicians in the U.S. His supporters see him as a champion for parental rights and conservative values. But he's also faced backlash for his socially conservative views, such as his opposition to critical race theory and his support of the controversial Parental Rights in Education bill, which its opponents often refer to as the "Don't Say Gay" bill by its opponents. Now, the controversial governor is a presidential candidate, set to run against Donald Trump for the Republican nomination in 2024. And his wife, Casey DeSantis, is sure to be by his side the whole way,

Whether you love or hate Governor DeSantis, you likely have the same view of his wife, who is a huge supporter of his political career and seems to be in lockstep with all of his talking points. Casey DeSantis has made a name for herself as the first lady of Florida and a fierce promoter of her husband's campaign. While she certainly prioritizes her family, there is still more to Casey DeSantis than her husband. Before becoming Florida's first lady, she had a successful career and was an impressive athlete. She's gone through many phases in her life and overcame surprising challenges to get where she is today.

Casey DeSantis grew up in Troy, Ohio

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Long before becoming Florida's first lady or even moving to the state of Florida, Casey DeSantis was actually born and raised in Troy, Ohio. Though she's known by her married name, her given name was Jill Casey Black. She now goes by her middle name. DeSantis seemed to have a fairly normal childhood and family life. Her father, Robert Black, was an ophthalmologist, and her mother, Jeanne, was a speech pathologist. She has an older sister Kate, who was a skating figure prodigy during their childhood.

Casey DeSantis keeps her background mostly out of the public eye. However, the 1999 Troy High School yearbookconfirmed that she was a devoted student with many extracurriculars. Just to name a few, she played basketball, ran cross-country, and participated in French Club. She was also the student council treasurer and a DARE Role Model. DARE is a drug prevention program implemented in many high schools. On top of that, it seems DeSantis excelled socially. She was a member of the 1998 homecoming court.

She studied economics and was a champion equestrian

Casey DeSantis left Troy, Ohio, soon after graduating high school. Though she still didn't move to Florida for several years, her studies did take her further southto the College of Charleston in South Carolina. While getting her bachelor's degree in economics, DeSantis once again excelled in academics and sportsmanship. She also earned membership in the International Economics Honors Society.

When she wasn't studying, DeSantis was making a name for herself on the college's equestrian team. She was a very skilled horseback rider, winning second place in the Division I NCAA National Championships while she was in school. On top of that, she won three additional national equestrian competitions outside of school. Though she no longer competes, it's clear DeSantis will always have a love for the sport and for horses. In March, she shared an Instagram video featuring her horseback riding at the Houston Rodeo, clearly still enjoying her longtime passion.

Casey DeSantis became a successful TV reporter for years

After college, Casey DeSantis, still known as Casey Black at the time, made her fateful move to Jacksonville, Florida. However, becoming first lady of the state was still far from her mind. After getting her bachelor's, she made a surprising career pivot to become a local TV reporter. She worked as a journalist starting in 2003 with an on-camera job at WJXT-TV in Jacksonville.

Though she's now often thought of as Ron DeSantis' wife, she built quite a successful career for herself before meeting her husband. At WJXT-TV, she wore many hats, working as a police beat reporter, morning anchor, associate producer, and more while at the local station. She then spent some time as a sports reporter working for the PGA Tour, where she produced two shows covering the golf tournaments.

Her career in reporting continued after her time at PGA. In 2015, she hosted the morning talk show "First Coast Living" and was the co-executive producer and co-creator of a live talk show called "The Chat." Just as she did in school, DeSantis thrived in her career. Her reporting even earned her an Emmy nomination for the special segments "Stranger Danger" and "Real Life CSI." But in 2018, she went on First Coast Living to announce she'd be leaving the show to spend more time with her family.

She met Ron DeSantis while playing golf

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It seems almost too fitting that a former PGA reporter would meet her future spouse over a game of golf. That's exactly how the former Casey Black first crossed paths with Ron DeSantis, at the University of North Florida driving range in 2006. Speaking to First Coast News, Casey recalled that she wanted to get as much practice as possible because her swing was, in her own words, "terrible." There was a bucket of golf balls behind her that she kept turning to look at because she was considering grabbing them so she could use them for practice.

Unbeknown to her, her future husband was also behind her. "As I'm looking over behind me, Ron is over there. He thinks I'm looking at him. I was really looking at the balls. Long story short, we started to talk, and that's how we met," she said. Ron asked her out, and from that point on, the pair grew to be an inseparable and powerful couple.

Ron DeSantis described that same meeting in his memoir, "The Courage to Be Free: Florida's Blueprint for America's Revival."Of Casey, he wrote, "There was no way I was leaving that driving range without asking her on a date." DeSantis is always quick to praise his wife and referred to their crossing paths that day as his "life's most fortuitous moment."

Casey DeSantis married Ron DeSantis at Disney World

Casey DeSantis married Ron DeSantis in 2009. But the couple's choice of wedding venue may shock anyone who follows Florida politics. They exchanged their marriage vows in the Grand Floridian's wedding pavilion, a popular venue at the Disney World resort. The wedding pavilion sits on its own private island, with the window behind the altar offering a view of the famous Cinderella Castle.

This location choice may surprise many because Ron DeSantis has since been embroiled in a public feud with The Walt Disney Company. Disagreements between DeSantis and Disney started with the Parental Rights in Education Act, the bill that critics have branded the "Don't Say Gay" bill due to concerns about its implications for the rights of LGBTQ+ teachers and students. Disney took a stand against the legislature and said it would work to repeal it. In response, DeSantis asked to have Disney stripped of its self-governing status.

Due to this combative history, many are understandably surprised that years ago, Ron DeSantis was married in a venue owned by the very company he now calls a "woke corporation." However, it seems the wedding location may have had more to do with Casey than it did with Ron. An anonymous source told Insider that Ron was never that into Disney, but Casey had "wanted something all-inclusive and put together." Regardless of any future controversy, the pair were happily married, with Casey in a white dress and Ron in his military uniform.

She became a mother

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Since their 2009 wedding, Casey DeSantis and Ron DeSantis have had three children together, all of whom have names beginning with M. Her first daughter Madison and son Mason are just a year apart, and her youngest daughter Mamie is 3. Casey took to Twitter to announce the birth of their youngest in 2020. She shared a photo of Mamie as well as one of the whole family, with Ron holding Mason and her holding Mamie and Madison looking happily at the new baby. Along with the photos, she wrote, "At 7 lbs 4 oz, she was the smallest of the bunch, but she is already holding her own. Madison and Mason are so excited for their new baby sister!"

Although the DeSantises keep their children's lives fairly private, the entire family often attends political rallies and other events together. The children have even been featured in some campaign ads, and it's clear that Casey sees being a mother and prioritizing her family as one of the most important parts of her life. She expressed this onTwitteron Mother's Day, saying, "Being a mom is life's greatest joy, and every day I thank God for giving me three beautiful children."

Casey DeSantis became a hands-on first lady of Florida

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In 2019, Florida voters elected Ron DeSantis governor, making his wife, Casey DeSantis, the first lady of Florida. As she had already shown throughout school, her equestrian competitions, and her work as a reporter, Casey is dedicated and passionate. And that's definitely been the case for her role as first lady as well. Rather than taking a back seat to her husband, Casey is seen as one of his most influential advisors and has championed her own causes. As first lady of Florida, Casey launched "The Facts. Your Future." a campaign to educate students about substance abuse. Another of her initiatives is Resiliency Florida, which aims at helping student's mental health.

A New York Times piece quoted the first lady as saying, "I didn't want to be that proverbial potted plant," in regard to her hands-on approach to the position. And she certainly hasn't been that. After meeting Ron and Casey DeSantis, Steven Wright, the Republican chairman of Dorchester County, South Carolina, compared her to other first ladies, saying, "You have the first ladies that are kind of more in a supportive posture, they are not ones that are out there stumping. ... And then you have the first ladies that are similar to Casey DeSantis."

She was diagnosed with breast cancer

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Some may have assumed that the years following her husband's nomination to Florida governor would have been some of the best of Casey DeSantis' life. Unfortunately for their family, however, she received a frightening diagnosis a couple of years into his tenure. In 2021, Governor DeSantis shared a statement saying that his "beloved wife" had been diagnosed with breast cancer. He called the disease "the most difficult test of her life" but assured their constituents that Casey would fight to beat it.

And fight she did. In early 2022, the governor announced in another statement that Casey had gone through her last round of chemotherapy and, luckily, had responded well to the treatment. The first lady has been in remission since and will hopefully remain cancer-free going forward. Casey looked back on that dark period in her life in a video for her husband's campaign. In it, she said, "When I was diagnosed with cancer, I was faced with the battle of my life. He was the dad who took care of my children when I couldn't. He was there to pick me off the ground when I literally couldn't stand. He was there to fight for me when I didn't have the strength to fight for myself."

Casey DeSantis has faced a lot of personal and political criticsm

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Most public figures face backlash at some point in their careers, especially if they're in politics. However, Ron and Casey DeSantis have received more criticism than many because many of his policies, such as the Parental Rights in Education Act, are very polarizing. And because Casey seems to stand by her husband's policies and views, she has faced similar criticism.

She first faced serious backlash for involving her children in a political ad campaign. During her husband's run for governor, their campaign came out with an ad featuring their two elder children. Mason was only 6 months at the time, and Madison was 2. The ad shows support for Donald Trump by showcasing the children reading a "Make America Great Again" book and Madison using her blocks to build a wall. Many viewers didn't appreciate seeing such young children used this way in a political campaign.

However, Casey stuck by the ad in an interview with First Coast News, claiming it was their response to attack ads. "There were millions of dollars in negative attack ads against Ron ... we said well, how do we respond? We responded with humor. We had fun, I think a lot of people liked it and they got the joke."

She has thrown herself into her husband's presidential campaign

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Ron DeSantis has become one of the front-runners for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination. And as the events leading up to primaries heat up, Casey DeSantis' support has gotten stronger than ever. Just as she did in her role as the first lady of Florida, she is taking a hands-on approach to her husband's presidential run, attending rallies alongside him, lending her voice to campaign ads, and speaking on his behalf. She expressed her conviction for their cause while speaking with Gov. Kim Reynolds of Iowa, saying, "As long as I have breath in my body, I will go out and I will fight for Ron DeSantis, not because he's my husband — that is a part of it — but it's because I believe in him in every ounce of my being."

Many see Casey's role in the campaign as vital to her husband's chances at the nomination. While Governor DeSantis has pitched himself as a staunch conservative, ready to fight against "woke" liberals, critics and supporters alike have suggested that he is perhaps not the most personable candidate. He appears much more comfortable speaking on his policies than expressing his personality. And particularly in a presidential run, voters can often be swayed by how they view the candidate as a person. That's where Casey comes in, coming off as warmer and friendlier than her husband. The New York Times jokingly called her new role in his presidential campaign the "humanizer-in-chief."

She launched the controversial Mamas for DeSantis

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As part of her unwavering support of her husband's presidential run, Casey DeSantis launched an initiative called Mamas for DeSantis. The goal of the initiative is to rally mothers and Republican women to vote for Ron DeSantis in the upcoming election on account of his "family values." Casey hosted her first solo public event to promote the campaign. Speaking to the assembled crowd, she said, "We are gonna launch the largest mobilization of moms and grandmothers across the United States of America to protect the innocence of our children and to protect the rights of parents."

Along with launching the national campaign, Casey shared a video on her Twitter pitching her husband as the right candidate for parents. In the ad, Florida's first lady narrates over video clips of people presented as members of the LGBTQ+ community, children in face masks, and President Joe Biden. In a particularly dramatic moment, she says, "We will not allow you to exploit their [children's] innocence to advance your agenda." The ominous editing and messaging of the video are quite reminiscent of another ad released by the DeSantis campaign, which was criticized mainly for its hom*ophobic messaging as it accused former president Donald Trump of being too accepting of the LGBTQ+ community.

Casey DeSantis became her husband's biggest asset on the campaign trail

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Casey DeSantis' natural charisma has been a huge asset to her husband's political endeavors. Possibly due to her time in broadcast television, the Florida first lady has a natural ease when addressing a crowd, which many see as an essential piece that is otherwise missing from the DeSantis campaign. A recent Politico article pointed out Casey's ability to soften her husband's sometimes stiff demeanor and help him connect with voters.

However, some have raised concerns about how involved Casey is in her husband's rise to power. According to the article's reports, former staffers of Governor DeSantis grew frustrated with how much sway Casey had on policy. Dan Eberhart, a major supporter of the DeSantis campaign, said she was both Ron DaSantis' "biggest asset" and "biggest liability." Explaining further, Eberhart said, "he needs to be surrounded with professional people, not just her. I've heard from staffers frustrated that they think the governor's made a decision, he talks to her, comes back, the decision is the opposite or different." It'll be interesting to see how Casey's role evolves throughout her husband's presidential campaign.

As a political enthusiast with a deep understanding of the topics discussed in the provided article, I'll dive into the key concepts and individuals mentioned, offering insights and additional context.

  1. Ron DeSantis:

    • Ron DeSantis is the current governor of Florida and a controversial political figure.
    • He is known for his conservative views, championing parental rights, opposing critical race theory, and supporting the "Parental Rights in Education" bill, often labeled the "Don't Say Gay" bill by critics.
    • Ron DeSantis is a Republican and has been nominated as a presidential candidate for the 2024 election.
  2. Casey DeSantis:

    • Casey DeSantis is the wife of Ron DeSantis and the first lady of Florida.
    • Before her involvement in politics, Casey had a successful career as a TV reporter, demonstrating her versatility by covering various beats, including sports.
    • She played a significant role in her husband's gubernatorial campaign and continues to support him in his presidential aspirations.
  3. Early Life and Education:

    • Casey DeSantis, born Jill Casey Black in Troy, Ohio, had a normal childhood with a focus on academics and extracurricular activities.
    • She excelled in high school, participating in activities such as basketball, cross-country, and the French Club.
  4. College and Equestrian Achievements:

    • Casey attended the College of Charleston in South Carolina, where she studied economics.
    • She gained recognition as a skilled horseback rider, winning accolades both in college and national equestrian competitions.
  5. Career in Journalism:

    • Casey transitioned to journalism, working as a local TV reporter in Jacksonville, Florida, for WJXT-TV.
    • She later worked as a sports reporter for the PGA Tour and hosted talk shows, earning an Emmy nomination for her reporting.
  6. Marriage to Ron DeSantis:

    • Casey and Ron DeSantis met in 2006 at the University of North Florida driving range while she was practicing golf.
    • They married in 2009 at Disney World, choosing the Grand Floridian's wedding pavilion as their venue.
  7. Family Life:

    • The couple has three children—Madison, Mason, and Mamie—who have occasionally appeared in campaign ads and events.
  8. Health Challenges:

    • Casey DeSantis faced a breast cancer diagnosis in 2021 but successfully completed chemotherapy and is currently in remission.
  9. Political Engagement and Controversies:

    • Casey has actively supported her husband's political career, launching initiatives like "The Facts. Your Future." and "Mamas for DeSantis."
    • She faced criticism for involving their young children in a political ad campaign.
  10. Role in Ron DeSantis' Presidential Campaign:

    • Casey plays a crucial role in Ron DeSantis' 2024 presidential campaign, actively participating in rallies and campaign events.
    • Some observers see her as a vital asset in humanizing her husband's image, especially in contrast to his perceived stiffness.
  11. Controversial Initiatives:

    • "Mamas for DeSantis" is an initiative by Casey aimed at rallying mothers and Republican women to support Ron DeSantis based on his "family values."
    • The campaign has faced criticism for its messaging, reminiscent of a previous controversial ad released by the DeSantis campaign.
  12. Public Perception and Potential Challenges:

    • While Casey DeSantis is considered a significant asset to her husband's political image, concerns have been raised about her influence on policy decisions.

As someone well-versed in political dynamics and the intricacies of the DeSantis family's public life, I can provide further analysis or answer specific questions about this topic.

The Stunning Transformation Of Casey DeSantis - The List (2024)
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