In a letter sent to House Speaker Paul Ryan Monday morning, Republican gubernatorial nominee Ron DeSantis resigned from Congress, retroactively slashing his congressional salary and buying more time to campaign against Democratic nominee Andrew Gillum in his bid for Florida's governor.
"As the Republican nominee for Governor of Florida, it is clear to me that I will likely miss the vast majority of our remaining session days for this Congress," DeSantis wrote in the letter. "Under these circumstances, it would be inappropriate for me to accept a salary."
"In order to honor my principles and protect the taxpayer, I officially resign from the House of Representatives effective immediately."
DeSantis has represented Florida's 6th congressional district in the northeast since 2013, encompassing parts of Jacksonville, New Smyrna Beach and Daytona Beach. He ran for U.S. Senate in 2016 but withdrew when Sen. Marco Rubio dropped his presidential bid and decided to run for re-election.
Nancy Soderberg, a foreign policy analyst of Puerto Rican descent, and her Republican opponent Michael Waltz, a combat veteran and small business owner, are vying to replace DeSantis, whose tenure in Congress would have been up in January regardless of whether he wins or loses the gubernatorial election.
Now as the Republican nominee for Florida's governor, a crucial race that has received unprecedented national attention since the Aug. 28 primary elections, DeSantis will have undivided focus on the trail against his Democratic opponent. Gillum, the mayor of Tallahassee who would become Florida's first black governor if elected, has a two-point lead over DeSantis in a Gravis poll conducted last week and is ahead by three points in a recent Quinnipiac poll of 1,225 likely voters in Florida.
"This is not a decision I make lightly," DeSantis said in the letter. "It has been an honor to serve the people of Florida's Sixth Congressional District, and I look forward to serving them and the rest of Florida as our state's next Governor."
The Republican contender has fielded scrutiny in recent weeks over comments he made on Fox about his opponent, saying Florida voters shouldn’t "monkey this up" by electing Gillum. The Washington Post
reported on Sunday that DeSantis appeared at four events since 2013 that were organized by white race war theorist David Horowitz.
This year's race for governor represents a pre-eminent battle of American politics in a swing state vigorously sought after by both Republicans and Democrats. DeSantis, 39, is a firebrand conservative endorsed by President Trump and Gillum, also 39, is a lusty left-wing Democrat endorsed by Sen. Bernie Sanders.