GOP Rep. Ron DeSantis, running for Florida governor, resigns from House

Rep. Ron DeSantis, a conservative Republican running for governor of Florida, has resigned from the House to focus on his campaign, he told House Speaker Paul D. Ryan in a letter delivered Monday.

DeSantis, 39, has represented Florida’s 6th Congressional District since 2013. He faces Democrat Andrew Gillum, the mayor of Tallahassee, in a closely watched matchup this November.

“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. “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.”

A spokesman for Ryan confirmed receipt of DeSantis’s letter.

Word of the resignation came as The Washington Post reported Monday that DeSantis spoke four times at conferences organized by a conservative activist who has said that African Americans owe their freedom to white people and that the country’s “only serious race war” is against whites.

DeSantis has missed 43 of 80 House votes cast since July — including all 14 votes cast last week — according to database maintained by GovTrack. In the letter, DeSantis asked that his resignation be made retroactive to Sept. 1 for payroll purposes.

“This is not a decision I make lightly,” he wrote. “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.”

A member of the hard-right House Freedom Caucus, DeSantis has emerged as one of President Trump’s most aggressive defenders on Capitol Hill and has been a critic of the Justice Department and special counsel investigations into Trump.

DeSantis was one of six sitting House members seeking governor’s seats across the country. Gubernatorial candidates remaining in the House are fellow Republicans Kristi L. Noem of South Dakota and Stevan Pearce of New Mexico, as well as Democrats Tim Walz of Minnesota, Jared Polis of Colorado and Michelle Lujan Grisham of New Mexico.

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