Now that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is officially a candidate for president of the United States, a national audience will start considering a matter that has perplexed many in the Sunshine State for years:
Is it DEE-Santis or DEH-Santis?
No seriously, how does one pronounce the governor's last name? It's been a bit of a moving target.
The New York Times observed this week that "when he was sworn in for a second term as governor in January, he said, 'I, Ron Deh-Santis.' This month, he began a video for the National Day of Prayer by saying, 'I’m Gov. Ron Dee-Santis.' "
And the Orlando Sentinel also picked up the baton, noting the "DeSantis campaign did not immediately respond to an inquiry Thursday into the preferred pronunciation."
We’re sticking with DEE-Santis after reading this piece from New York magazine, spurred by former President Donald Trump – the GOP presidential nominee rival-in-chief – calling attention to a March tweet featuring a montage of the governor saying his name both ways.
Who changes the pronunciation of their own last name in their 40’s?— johnny maga (@_johnnymaga) March 17, 2023
Is there anything genuine about this guy? pic.twitter.com/SKNV5364S1
Margaret Hartmann’s column weighs various ads and interviews with DeSantis over the past few years, concluding that DeSantis has switched up his own pronunciation.
When DeSantis first ran for governor of Florida in 2018, two local news outlets ran stories on how no one was clear on the pronunciation of his name. The candidate usually said Dee-Santis, but in campaign ads his wife, Casey, said Deh-Santis. On September 20, 2018, the Tampa Bay Times reported that DeSantis’s nickname in high school was “Dee,” and his campaign confirmed that he preferred that pronunciation — regardless of Casey’s take….
And Hartmann also hit on the whole Italian-American thing, which has yet to be fully explored, though some have teased at it:
I am Italian American. I have plenty of family members who say their last names differently from their cousins and even their parents, and I know firsthand that it’s often easier to shrug off other people’s mispronunciations. But I have never heard of an elected official repeatedly switching the pronunciation of his own name, over the course of many years, with no clear rhyme or reason.
Then there's that.
The article concludes: “Is DeSantis really conflicted about how to say his own name, or is this some kind of sadistic test?”
The world may never know, as it may never know, for example, whether he agonizes over finding the perfect chicken parm sandwich in Tallahassee.
A previous version of this post was first published in the March 21 edition of The DeSantis Files newsletter.
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