Ron DeSantis has been the Republican governor of Florida since 2019, when he first won with Trump’s endorsement. An outspoken critic of what the Right derides as “wokeness,” he began his second term in 2023 vowing to make Florida the state “where woke goes to die.” He also continued to double-down on pronouncing his MAGA credentials in advance of his long-anticipated announcement in May 2023 (with Elon Musk on Twitter) about his 2024 presidential bid.
As governor, DeSantis has targeted Covid-19 mask mandates, LGBTQ people, asylum seekers, public sector unions, peaceful protest (though this law was later blocked by a federal judge), teaching the factual history of racism in K–12 public schools, diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) programs at state colleges, and academic freedom (another law that is still being challenged in the courts). In his 2023 memoir The Courage to Be Free (subtitled Florida’s Blueprint for America’s Revival), the governor describes himself as a “blue-collar boy who grew up to take on Disney and Dr. Fauci.”
DeSantis has emerged as a national leader in the anti-ESG movement, in part by spearheading the formation of an “alliance” of 18 other GOP governors who are “committed to lead state-level efforts to protect individuals from the ESG movement.” In a public letter, these governors call ESG a “woke ideology” that poses “a direct threat to the American economy, individual economic freedom, and our way of life.”
In May 2023, DeSantis signed legislation that prohibits Florida state officials from weighing ESG considerations when making investments and outlaws the sale of ESG bonds. Journalist Jason Garcia found that legislation the governor proposed in February 2023 would directly benefit GEO Group, the Florida-based operator of for-profit prisons and detention centers that is a big donor to both his own campaigns and the Florida GOP more broadly.
Prior to becoming governor, DeSantis served as a member of Congress (2013–18), during which time he was a founding member of the right-wing House Freedom Caucus. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Yale and a law degree from Harvard.
- Signed far-reaching legislation that bans state officials from considering ESG factors when making investments and prohibits the sale of ESG bonds (5/2/23)
- Proposed legislation that would “protect Floridians from the woke ESG financial scam” by prohibiting state and local governments from using ESG considerations in any investment decisions, and prohibiting governments from considering ESG when contracting or procuring government contracts or issuing bonds (2/13/23)
- As a trustee member of Florida’s State Board of Administration, passed a resolution to divest state pension funds from ESG-linked investments (8/23/22)