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DeSantis resigns House seat to focus on governor's race
Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) is stepping down from his House seat to focus on his gubernatorial bid against Democrat Andrew Gillum.
DeSantis notified House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) in a letter Monday morning that he would resign his seat immediately amid an increasingly competitive race against Gillum.
In the letter, DeSantis said it would be inappropriate to collect a salary from the House, because he would likely miss a majority of the chamber's remaining days in session.
"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."
DeSantis requested that his resignation be made retroactive for Sept. 1 so that he will not collect any pay in September.
DeSantis, a staunch ally of President Trump who earned the former real estate mogul's endorsement, easily won the Republican nomination for Florida governor last month, defeating state Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam.
But his general election bid against Gillum, the progressive mayor of Tallahassee, has gotten off to a rocky start. A day after the Florida primary, DeSantis came under fire for saying in a Fox News interview that voters should not "monkey this up" by electing Gillum, who is black.
DeSantis denied that the comment, which was condemned by both Democrats and Republicans, had anything to do with race.
An Idaho-based white supremacist website also placed racist robocalls in Florida targeting Gillum. Those calls were not related to DeSantis's campaign.
The subject of race entered the picture again on Sunday after The Washington Post reported that DeSantis had spoken four times at conferences organized by a conservative activist with a history of making racially charged remarks.
DeSantis on Monday confirmed his departure from Congress on Twitter.
Trump won Florida by roughly a point in 2016, but the race for governor has become increasingly competitive. In the days after the Aug. 28 primary, Gillum raked in a little more than $4.4 million - significantly more than the $516,000 brought in by DeSantis's campaign.
A recent Quinnipiac University poll meanwhile showed Gillum leading DeSantis 50-47 percent. Even at that, Gillum's lead was within the poll's margin of error of plus or minus 4.3 percentage points.
Republicans have held the governor's mansion in Florida for roughly two decades. Gillum, however, has bet on a progressive message to turn out liberal voters in a nonpresidential election year, arguing that the state Democratic Party's tendency to nominate middle-of-the-road candidates has been partially responsible for the party's failed gubernatorial bids.
DeSantis's resignation on Monday creates a vacancy in his north Central Florida House seat.
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