TALLAHASSEE — Republican Ron DeSantis, winner of the closest governor’s race in Florida history, was sworn-in today promising to work toward easing political divisions while still advancing his party’s views on education, the economy and the courts.
On a sun-splashed afternoon outside the Florida Historic Capitol, DeSantis took the oath of office, flanked by his wife, Casey. Outgoing Gov. Rick Scott, who will be sworn-in as Florida’s new U.S. senator, was among four former governors looking on.
“If we meet the challenges that lie before us,” DeSantis said. “If we overcome the tribalism that has dominated our politics. If we set the interests of hard-working taxpayers as our true north, then I have no doubt that the state of Florida will cruise to bright new horizons.”
A crowd of several thousand gathered for the inauguration of Florida’s 46th chief executive. DeSantis, who defeated Democrat Andrew Gillum by fewer than 34,000 votes in a contest not decided until after a statewide machine recount, said tackling the state’s environmental woes will be a priority of the new administration.
“For Florida, the quality of our water and environmental surroundings are foundational to our prosperity as a state — it doesn’t just drive tourism, it affects property values, anchors many local economies and is central to our qualify of life,” DeSantis said.
In his inaugural address, DeSantis praised Scott’s “laser-like focus” on the economy and pledged to continue many of the same policies aimed at holding down taxes and spending.
DeSantis also outlined an education vision that emphasizes school choice - the expansion of charter and voucher schools ridiculed by his opponent, Gillum, during the campaign. The new governor, who said he plans to appoint his first of three new Supreme Court justices on Wednesday, said in his speech that “judicial activism ends, right here and right now.”
DeSantis began his day with an inaugural tradition, a prayer breakfast at Florida A&M University, the state’s only public historically black university. FAMU is where his November rival went to school, and on a city street leading to the university a “Gillum for Governor” sign still adorned a building.
At the breakfast, DeSantis said that he and his wife, Casey, planned to leave the inaugural for the Governor’s Mansion to baptize their nine-month-old son, Mason. The new governor explained that the family decision was why the couple chose not to hold an inaugural parade.
“The more people who turn to God, I think the easier it will be for us to work together to solve problems,” DeSantis told the breakfast crowd.
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