Floridians don't know how to pronounce Ron DeSantis' last name

Campaign says it's pronounced Dee-Santis, not Deh-Santis

By Scott Johnson - Reporter, Kent Justice - Anchor/reporter
AP photo by Phelan M. Ebenhack

Casey and Ron DeSantis on stage in Orlando speaking to supporters after the Northeast Florida congressman was elected the Republican nominee for Florida governor.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - There's an issue you might have noticed in the race for governor that seems very minor but has a lot of people scratching their heads.

How do you pronounce the last name of Ron DeSantis? Is it Dee-Santis or Deh-Santis? Surprisingly, the answer is not so clear-cut, as you can see in his own campaign ads.

Let's look at the most recent campaign ad for DeSantis. 

As you can tell from the video, it's pretty clear that he says Dee-Santis. In fact, he says it twice.

But not so fast -- let's see what his wife says in a campaign ad from the primaries. 

"My husband, Ron Deh-Santis, is endorsed by President Trump," says DeSantis' wife. And don't just take Casey Black-DeSantis' word for it. Listen to the paid announcer say the name at the end of the same ad. Yep, it's pronounced Deh-Santis. 

News4Jax reached out to the campaign Sunday evening, and it said, as far as Ron is concerned, it's Dee-Santis, and that's how he's always said it. We looked up other videos and came across this ad from when he was running for Congress in 2012. 

"I'm Ron Dee-Santis, and I approve this message," says DeSantis. 

But in 2016, there was this video. 

"I'm Ron Deh-Santis," says DeSantis. 

Now, this seemingly minor issue is getting statewide attention. Just look at this article from the Tampa Bay Times called "Tomato, Tomahto; Dee-Santis, Deh-Santis."

News4Jax also heard a source who was at the DeSantis wedding. That day, we're told, it was pronounced Deh-Santis.

The campaign said Sunday evening it was aware of the pronunciation confusion and never decided it was worth correcting anyone.

But on Monday afternoon, the campaign told News4Jax that it's pronounced Dee-Santis.

"Hard D: DeeSantis. Just the way he pronounces in the ads," a campaign spokesperson wrote in an email.

Dr. Michael Binder, the director of the University of North Florida Public Opinion Research Lab, said that he has never seen the pronunciation of a candidate's name change so close to an election date. 

"I've seen it earlier in people's campaigns and careers and things of that nature, but never six months out from a gubernatorial election when you've already won the statewide primary," he said.

Binder said there's presumably a reason behind it, but that reason is unclear.

"I've called up and called him Deh-Santis for several years now. I don't know what's happening. This is a little strange, to be honest," Binder said. "Maybe it's a move to make him more, you know, more friendly? More easygoing?"

DeSantis will face Florida Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum in the Nov. 6 general election.

Copyright 2018 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.