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Congressman Ron DeSantis announced Friday that he would join the crowd of candidates vying to become Florida’s next governor, making official a long-rumored campaign.

An Iraq War veteran first elected to Congress in 2012, DeSantis is the preferred candidate of President Donald Trump, who tweeted on December 22, “Congressman Ron DeSantis is a brilliant young leader, Yale and then Harvard Law, who would make a GREAT Governor of Florida. He loves our Country and is a true FIGHTER!”

DeSantis announced his candidacy on Fox News, where he has appeared frequently.

“As someone who’s a military officer, an Iraq veteran, a proven conservative, and then with the support of the president, I’m in a position to provide the leadership that can build on the great work Gov. Rick Scott has done to advance economic opportunity, reform education, and drain the swamp in Tallahassee, which needs to be drained,” DeSantis said.

DeSantis joins Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam as the second prominent Republican candidate in the race to succeed Gov. Rick Scott, who is term limited. Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran hasn’t formally entered the race but is widely expected to do so. A poll conducted from Dec. 30-31 shows DeSantis with an early lead, taking 28 percent of the vote in a hypothetical matchup against Putnam and Corcorcan. Putnam runs a close second at 25 percent, while Corcoran has just 3 percent and 44 percent of those polled were undecided.

The field is even more crowded on the Democratic side, with former congresswoman Gwen Graham — the daughter of popular former Florida Gov. Bob Graham — vying for the seat along with Tallahassee mayor Andrew Gillum, former Miami Beach mayor Philip Levine, and Orlando businessman Chris King.

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