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TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) – In order to focus on the governor’s race, U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis has resigned from his seat in Congress.
Desantis, who defeated state agriculture commission Adam Putnam in the GOP gubernatorial primary, is running against Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum.
In his resignation letter to Speaker Paul Ryan, he said he did not want to continue getting a salary because he will “likely miss the vast majority of our remaining session days,” according to Politico.
DeSantis, who has represented Congressional District 6 in Northeast Florida since 2012, was paid $174,000 a year for the federal office.
According to GovTrack, which tracks Congress, DeSantis had missed 4.2 percent of the roll call votes since January 2013, but the percentage has spiked to 53.8 percent since July.
But Democrats quickly criticized DeSantis, who was the subject Monday of a Washington Post story that said he spoke at racially charged conferences hosted by the conservative David Horowitz Freedom Center.
“Today, Ron DeSantis quit on the people of Florida, in an attempt to distract from a firestorm of controversy over his attendance at extremist conferences,” Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman Terrie Rizzo said in a statement. “Ron DeSantis can abandon his post, but he can’t avoid questions about why he chose to associate himself with hateful, fringe organizations.”
The liberal super PAC American Bridge called DeSantis’ move a “desperate stunt” that will fail to shift the focus on his “racist comments and affiliations with hate groups.”
The resignation was retroactive and effective Sept. 1, his campaign said.
Meanwhile, introducing running mate Jeanette Nunez, DeSantis kicked off their gubernatorial campaign at the Bay of Pigs Museum in Little Havana Monday night.
A crowd of Cuban-American voters that DeSantis has to get to polls in order to win what is forecast do be a tough race against Democrat gubernatorial nominee Andrew Gillum.
The Republican ticket was endorsed by GOP Senator Marco Rubio, who spoke about Nunez.
“She understands this community and understand the issues, and she fought for them in the Florida legislature,” said Rubio.
The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.