Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has tapped a veteran national Republican political operative to help spearhead his 2022 reelection race.
Phil Cox, a former executive director of the Republican Governors Association, has joined the DeSantis team as a senior-level adviser. The Florida governor had been in talks with several candidates for the post but ultimately settled on Cox, who has established close relationships with a number of Republican governors over the years.
Until now, DeSantis had yet to build out a 2022 political apparatus. The governor, who has seen in his national profile grow in recent weeks, has generally kept a small circle of advisers, which includes his wife, Casey.
Republican officials say they are preparing for what is expected to be a competitive race in the perennial swing state. DeSantis won in 2018 by less than half-a-percentage point, and he is facing a possible showdown next year against Democrat Nikki Fried, the state agriculture commissioner.
“Phil is an incredibly talented and trusted operative who has played a key role in dozens of successful gubernatorial campaigns over the last decade. Gov. DeSantis is well positioned heading into his reelection campaign, and Phil is an excellent addition to his operation,” Dave Rexrode, the current RGA executive director, said in a statement.
Cox led Virginia Republican Bob McDonnell’s successful 2009 gubernatorial campaign and spent four years at the RGA, first as a consultant and then as executive director. During the 2016 election, he oversaw a super PAC that backed the presidential campaign of former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
DeSantis is widely seen as a likely 2024 presidential candidate. He has become a favorite of major GOP donors and conservative activists, who have praised him for reluctance to implement coronavirus restrictions and for his fiery clashes with the media. Many party officials describe him as being in the top tier of future potential contenders.
This is not a CAPTIS article. Originally, it was published here.