Backroom Briefing: Patronis Eyes Governor’s Race

TALLAHASSEE — State Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis has set his sights on the governor’s mansion.

“I’d love to be governor one day,” Patronis said during an appearance on The News Service of Florida’s “Deeper Dive With Dara Kam” podcast that will be released Sunday. “My wife wants me to do it. I spent my whole life being a public servant. I love fixing people’s problems.”

Patronis has often been included in a list of potential candidates to run in 2026 to replace the term-limited Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Patronis said there is still “a lot of time,” but that, “I tell people all the time, you know, whenever I make my mind up to do something, you know, nobody will outwork me.”

The Panama City Republican spent eight years in the Florida House before being appointed by former Gov. Rick Scott to the Public Service Commission in 2015. Two years later, Scott appointed Patronis to the Cabinet office of chief financial officer, which Patronis retained in two elections.

No prominent candidates have opened campaign accounts for the governor’s race, but Republican names often mentioned include First Lady Casey DeSantis, Attorney General Ashley Moody, Agriculture Commissioner Wilton Simpson, Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nunez, and U.S. House members Matt Gaetz, Byron Donalds and Michael Waltz.

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Donalds and Waltz have publicly expressed interest.

Last month, Gov. DeSantis said there is “zero” chance his wife will run in 2026. But a Florida Atlantic University poll released Wednesday showed the first lady preferred by 43 percent of GOP voters, followed by Donalds at 19 percent. Patronis was listed in an FAU news release as trailing “further behind.”

Patronis makes appearances throughout the state and is highly active on social media, often supporting former President Donald Trump and targeting federal agencies such as the Internal Revenue Service.


DeSantis’ decisions to suspend Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren and Orlando-area State Attorney Monique Worrell created controversy — and led to legal battles.

Now, he intends to use a new political committee, the Florida Freedom Fund, to target Warren and Worrell, both Democrats, as they try to regain their jobs in the November election.

DeSantis replaced Warren with Suzy Lopez and Worrell with Andrew Bain. Lopez and Bain also are running in November.

“I do think that there’s a number of things that are going to be important for the state’s future,” DeSantis said during an appearance Wednesday in Tampa to sign the state budget. “Here in Hillsborough, I mean, obviously, you need an elected prosecutor that is going to put criminals away and hold them accountable. And you have someone in office (Lopez) now who’s doing that. So, I think that’s an important race. I think that the same race in Orlando is very important.”

DeSantis suspended Warren in 2022, pointing to issues such as the prosecutor signing a letter pledging to avoid enforcing a law preventing abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. DeSantis suspended Worrell last year from her post in the 9th Judicial Circuit, which is made up of Orange and Osceola counties, and accused her of neglect of duty and incompetence.

The governor touted the suspensions during his unsuccessful campaign for the Republican presidential nomination.

“DeSantis failed at his abysmal presidential bid, so now he’s back to undermining the will of local communities,” Worrell campaign spokeswoman Keisha Mulfort said in a statement.

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DeSantis also plans to use the political committee to oppose proposed constitutional amendments that would allow recreational use of marijuana and enshrine abortion rights in the state Constitution.

“What this (marijuana) amendment really does is, even if you have no interest in marijuana, marijuana will have an interest in you,” DeSantis said. “It’s going to be a part of your life. You’re going to smell it. It’s going to be used in places that it shouldn’t be used. And that’s just the reality. It is so unbelievably broad the way it’s written.”


As Chris Spencer completes the move from serving as DeSantis’ budget chief to running the State Board of Administration — which oversees investments for such things as the state pension fund — he envisions the new job as mostly administrative.

“The executive director role, as has historically been the case, is responsible for the overall governance of the organization, responsible for the administration of the organization, all administrative and professional staff management,” Spencer said Monday during a meeting of the state Investment Advisory Council.

Spencer’s move has been pending as DeSantis finished work on the state budget. The governor signed the budget Wednesday and issued vetoes.

Spencer said Chief Investment Officer Lamar Taylor will be “responsible for managing the investment activities of our asset classes, to strive for the highest return for our planned beneficiaries.”

“And so that will be the movement going forward here in our arrangement,” Spencer added.

Taylor has served as interim executive director of the agency.

SOCIAL MEDIA POST OF THE WEEK: “If a superintendent or school board member is telling teachers not to follow state law, that is grounds for suspension. We’ve wielded that suspension authority against prosecutors who disregard the law, and we will wield it against school officials who disregard the law.” — Gov. Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis).

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Latest Report Shows Sam Stern Clear Frontrunner For PBC State Attorney Race

Gloria Branch Moves to Top of The Class In School Board Race

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