The Phoenix Flyer

DeSantis picks Miami House member Jeanette Nunez for running mate

By: - September 6, 2018 9:53 am
Jeanette Nunez

Republican gubernatorial nominee Ron DeSantis made it official on Thursday morning, announcing that he has selected Miami state Representative Jeannette Nunez to serve as his lieutenant-governor, the first time in Florida history that a Cuban-American woman will run in that position.

“Jeanette Nunez is a strong, principled leader who will be an outstanding Lieutenant Governor for the people of Florida,” DeSantis said in a press release issued Thursday morning.

“She has a proven record of leadership and legislative accomplishments, delivering for both her constituents in Miami-Dade and the state of Florida as a whole.”

Born and raised in Miami, the 46-year-old Nunez has represented parts of Miami-Dade County in the Florida House since 2010, and was named two years ago by now former Speaker of the House Richard Corcoran to serve as Speaker Pro Tempore.

Married with three children, she has also worked extensively in the health care industry.

“I’m honored to have the opportunity to serve the people fo Florida with Congressman DeSantis,” said Nunez in press release. “In South Florida, we know that by empowering the free market – not big government – we succeed as a state. Together, I know we can build an economy that works for all Floridians, protect our natural resources and provide every child a great education. I’m excited about sharing our message across the Sunshine State and bringing home a big win in November.”

After news broke Wednesday night that Nunez would be DeSantis pick, Florida Democratic Party Chair Terrie Rizzo released a statement slamming Nunez’s record in Tallahassee, citing her as playing a role in the state’s “war on women” and a “staunch opponent of working families.”

“She voted for mandatory ultrasounds, to defund Planned Parenthood, and to restrict a woman’s right to choose,” Rizzo said. “As a Representative, she voted for a $1.3 billion cut to public schools and funneling taxpayer money away from public schools and to unaccountable private organizations.”

While Nunez’s record in the House is strongly conservative, she was the sponsor in 2014 of a law that offers in-state tuition to the children of undocumented immigrants, a bill that Governor Rick Scott ultimately signed that was severely bashed by other Republicans (some of whom campaigned in 2016 on repealing it).

Nunez also served on the Constitutional Revision Commission that met this year to propose constitutional amendments that voters could decide on.

Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg, a Democrat who Nunez succeeded in the Florida House (the district was later redrawn) criticized her in a tweet Wednesday night, claimed that she “disenfranchised Florida voters, especially NPA’s, by supporting the write-in loophole scam” during her tenure on the CRC.

But while Democrats were slamming her selection, Florida Republicans were hailing it.

“@RepJNunez is one of the brightest, kindest and most effective members of the Legislature,” tweeted Pinellas County House Republican Chris Sprowls. “She is one of those people you always wish you could be more like and are better for having served with. She will continue to make Florida stronger and all of us proud.”

While DeSantis victory was fueled by the enthusiastic support of President Trump, Nunez was previously not a supporter, based on a 2016 tweet that has since been deleted.

Nunez is close to U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, and supported his presidential candidacy initially. She tweeted in 2016 that “Trump is the biggest con man there is. #nosubstance #antiIsrael #supportsKKK #nevertrump.”

The deleted tweet prompted Florida Democratic Party spokesman Kevin Donohoe to write in a statement, “Did the DeSantis campaign even bother to vet Jeanette Nunez?”

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Mitch Perry
Mitch Perry

Mitch Perry has covered politics and government in Florida for more than two decades. Most recently he is the former politics reporter for Bay News 9. He has also worked at Florida Politics, Creative Loafing and WMNF Radio in Tampa. He was also part of the original staff when the Florida Phoenix was created in 2018.