DeSantis selects Nunez as running mate

South Fla. lawmaker first Cuban-American woman to run for lieutenant governor

By Peter Burke - Local10.com Managing Editor, Tim Swift - Local10.com Digital Editor

MIAMI - Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis has selected Florida state Rep. Jeanette Nunez as his running mate.

DeSantis announced his pick for lieutenant governor Thursday in a news release.

Nunez, who represents the Kendall area in Florida's 119th District, most recently served as speaker pro tempore in the Florida House. She becomes the first Cuban-American woman to run for lieutenant governor.

"Jeanette Nunez is a strong, principled leader who will be an outstanding lieutenant governor for the people of Florida," DeSantis said. "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."

Nunez is expected to join DeSantis at a scheduled campaign stop in Little Havana later in the day. 

"I'm honored to have the opportunity to serve the people of Florida with Congressman DeSantis," Nunez said. "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."

Politico reported Nunez joined the ticket at the urging of Sen. Marco Rubio, a close political ally.

Nunez, a mother of three and a Cuban-American, could help DeSantis appeal to female and Hispanic voters. One possible pitfall for Nunez: She is joining a President Donald Trump-endorsed campaign despite opposing him during the 2016 Republican primary campaign.

Florida Rep. Jeanette Nunez deleted this 2016 tweet in which she called President Donald Trump "the biggest con-man there is."

"Wake up Florida voters, Trump is the biggest con-man there is. #nosubstance #anti-Israel #supportsKKK #nevertrump," she wrote March 3, 2016 on Twitter. "VOTE @marcorubio #RUBIO."

The tweet was deleted late Wednesday.

DeSantis' Democratic opponent, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, announced that Orlando-area businessman Chris King would be his running mate. King unsuccessfully ran for governor during the Democratic primary.

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