The call of Liberty has hit downtown Tallahassee — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and family adopted a new family member Friday, a young mixed breed from a local animal shelter.
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First Lady Casey DeSantis tweeted a photo of daughters Madison and Mamie cuddling with Liberty, who appears to resemble a mix of terrier and lab. “Excited to welcome newest addition to the family,” she wrote.
The First Lady explained the family settled on Liberty as a name because “the Free State of Florida was too long.”
Liberty’s arrival at the governor’s mansion signals that an ongoing debate within the DeSantis family has been settled.
As a presidential candidate wooing voters in Iowa, DeSantis had told audiences his youngest daughter had been practicing with a “toy doggie on a leash” in anticipation of the family getting a dog.
Dog size prevented previous addition
But in an interview with an Iowa television station, DeSantis explained he and Casey could not agree on a breed.
“I want a lab,” DeSantis explained. According to Florida Politics, the holdup was that Casey wanted a smaller pooch. The governor added that the mansion comes with a “big yard” and there was a lot of room to “run around” and “have a lot of fun.”
The governor suspended his campaign a week ago after a second-place finish in the Iowa caucuses. A request for comment is pending with the governor’s press office about Liberty’s breed and from which animal shelter she was adopted.
Casey DeSantis’ followers on X welcomed the new pet into the Florida family. Rep. Chip LaMarca, R-Lighthouse Point, tweeted, “No greater love.”
Another follower sympathized with the pressure that the DeSantises endured from Madison, Mamie and son Mason: “A happy childhood is not complete until that love between a child & a pet is realized (or so my skilled-at-negotiating children told me when we adopted a dog!).”
Later Friday evening, DeSantis himself tweeted: “From being abandoned on the streets of Tallahassee to finding a new home in the Governor’s residence… welcome Liberty!”
The uneven history of pets at the Florida governor’s mansion
The old adage, “In politics, if you want a friend, get a dog,” does not always work out at the governor’s mansion.
U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, when he was governor, rescued a Labrador retriever during the 2010 gubernatorial campaign.
Scott turned to Facebook to select a name for his new friend. Supporters named him “Reagan” and then the dog disappeared after the inauguration.
Scott told reporters Reagan did not have the temperament to be First Dog. He “scared the living daylights” out of everyone and would not stop barking, Scott said. Reagan was returned to his previous owner.
The late Gov. Lawton Chiles often talked about his favorite hunting dog, Pretty Girl. When his approval ratings fell to 2% during contentious budget negotiations in 1991, Chiles quipped that at least Pretty Girl still loved him.
Then-Attorney General Bob Butterworth went out and bought a bright red coat for the dog. Stitched on one side was the “2% Club,” and on the other side, “At least I like Lawton.”
James Call is a member of the USA TODAY NETWORK-Florida Capital Bureau. He can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on X: @CallTallahassee.