Florida Governor Ron DeSantis finally declared his candidacy for president last month.
In entering the race, DeSantis formally became what is considered to be the strongest challenger to GOP frontrunner Donald Trump.
But now Ron DeSantis will actually have to run against the former president.
And while DeSantis recently dominated the Florida gubernatorial race, the presidential election is a different animal with an entirely more intense level of scrutiny for each and every decision made.
One of the more intriguing decisions DeSantis may eventually have to make (if he gets far enough along) is his choice of running mate.
So, let’s consider who DeSantis could choose as a running mate.
Ron DeSantis: Who Could He Choose as a Running Mate
DeSantis hasn’t made any sort of indication publicly about who his running mate may be, which of course makes any speculation about who DeSantis may pick quite difficult. Typically vice presidential picks are built around geographical considerations. And increasingly, vice presidential picks are made around demographic considerations.
Could DeSantis follow Trump’s lead? Trump has signaled that his next VP pick will be a woman – an effort, no doubt, to shore up support among suburban women voters, who are being seen as increasingly important to election outcomes. Trump’s short-list allegedly includes Kari Lake, Kristi Noem, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and Nikki Haley. Might DeSantis be keeping an eye on Trump’s list, too?
DeSantis is in a tough spot in that he’s promising Trump-style policies without the Trump-style sideshow drama. So, DeSantis is going to have to thread a needle – appeal to the MAGA base while seeming like a relatively normal guy. Easier said than done when you’re dealing with a voting bloc that seems out for blood.
DeSantis’s VP pick would have to help DeSantis thread that needle. Kari Lake is an option. She’s a woman. She’s from Arizona, a state that is increasingly in play and increasingly consequential to the presidential election. She is MAGA-certified, yet, she’s polished.
She’s not as rough around the edges as Trump, Lauren Boebert, or Marjorie Taylor Green. Lake is a former television host and she still sounds the part. Pretty, clean-cut, articulate. She could be a nice complement to the DeSantis campaign. Then again, Lake has never won an election in her life and has never served in public office in her life. And yes, I know Trump never served in office before ascending to the presidency but at least Trump had some managerial experience. Lake has no relevant experience.
Could DeSantis, a Floridian, use his VP pick to shore up support among the always-important Rust Belt? That’s what Trump did in 2016 and 2020 (although Trump was a New Yorker in 2016 and not a Floridian until 2020) when he chose Indianan choir boy Mike Pence to help broaden the ticket’s appeal through the swing-state Midwest, which ultimately decided the 2016 election. If DeSantis went the Rust Belt route, Kristi Noem, the governor of South Dakota, could be an option. Noem could possibly thread that needle, MAGA-certified without being full-blown crazy.
Or how about Mike Pence? Pence is a familiar face with experience in the vice presidency. Pence is a bona fide conservative who would garner support amongst evangelicals and Midwesterners – which was the logic behind Trump’s decision to enlist Pence.
But then again, Pence has angered the MAGA base with his break with Trump; DeSantis is looking to assuage the MAGA base. Further, DeSantis is looking to differentiate himself from Trump, and selecting Pence would play into the critique that DeSantis is just a Trump rehash.
Harrison Kass is the Senior Editor at 19FortyFive. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, Harrison joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison holds a BA from Lake Forest College, a JD from the University of Oregon, and an MA from New York University. Harrison listens to Dokken.