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Missing from the state fair Governor’s Luncheon today? Gov. Ron DeSantis

The Florida Republican is apparently snubbing the annual event.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis raises his hands after being asked about his relationship with two Ukrainian businessmen during an announcement at a Palm Harbor Walmart Monday, Nov. 4, 2019. DeSantis refused to answer questions about the two men.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis raises his hands after being asked about his relationship with two Ukrainian businessmen during an announcement at a Palm Harbor Walmart Monday, Nov. 4, 2019. DeSantis refused to answer questions about the two men. [ CHRIS URSO | Times ]
Published Feb. 6, 2020|Updated Feb. 6, 2020

Is it still the Governor’s Luncheon if there’s no governor?

Gov. Ron DeSantis will be a no-show at the Florida State Fair Governor’s Luncheon in Tampa today. His official schedule has him in Tallahassee all day.

Florida’s top executive traditionally speaks at the annual event at the Tampa fairgrounds. They also usually kick off the state fair by flipping a giant switch with other leaders, sip orange juice and eat strawberries from Florida farmers at a breakfast and hold a Cabinet meeting on site. But DeSantis will skip the Florida State Fair entirely this year.

The governor’s luncheon is where the Tampa Metro Civitan Club recognizes the area’s top citizen. The group advertised DeSantis would be in attendance on its website, where tickets were sold for $50.

“This is our club’s most visible project, in which we present the Outstanding Citizen of the Year Award, in front of the Governor, his Cabinet and some 1000 of Tampa’s top civic and business leaders,” the website said.

Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried will give the keynote address at the luncheon in DeSantis’ place.

DeSantis spoke at the luncheon last year — one of his first public events in the area after his inauguration — and attended all the traditional festivities (except riding the big slide). A spokeswoman told the Times that DeSantis was working, but didn’t elaborate. His schedule shows only that he’s got “staff and call time” at 9:30 a.m. and a 2 p.m. meeting with his policy director, Chris Spencer. Most of the rest of the day is slated for meetings with lawmakers.

DeSantis this morning tweeted that his office was monitoring a storm approaching North Florida.

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