Endorsing DeSantis for GOP nomination
Perez has endorsed DeSantis for president and worked to advance much of the governor’s agenda. As the national chair of the American Legislative Exchange Council, a consortium of conservative legislators, Perez has also echoed many of the conservative talking points used by the governor.
On Sunday night, DeSantis attended a small reception that served as the precursor for Perez’s formal designation ceremony. A who’s who of Miami politicos and Florida Republicans attended the Monday morning ceremony at the Capitol. Among them: Congressman Matt Gaetz, former state senator Frank Artiles, Florida’s former business regulation chief Halsey Beshears, former Florida State University President John Thrasher and New College interim president and former House Speaker Richard Corcoran.
In 2022, Perez shepherded through the House the governor’s election overhaul bill that created a new elections security office to investigate election fraud. Although election fraud is exceedingly rare, Perez called the measure an “extra resource” for local election supervisors to ensure “there are absolutely no cases falling through the cracks.”
Perez was first elected to represent House District 116 seat in a 2017 special election to replace former Republican Rep. Jose Felix Diaz, who left office to run unsuccessfully for the state Senate seat vacated by Artiles.
The district includes Sweetwater, parts of West Miami and South Miami. Perez won reelection in 2018 and again in 2020 even though he was targeted for defeat by a powerful member of the Miami delegation, outgoing House Speaker José Oliva of Miami Lakes.
In that race, Perez drew a pro-Trump challenger from the right, Gabriel Garcia. Oliva’s adviser, David Custin, directed mailers and Facebook ads attacking Perez over a trip he took in 2017 to Cuba with his fiancee, during which they snapped engagement photos.
Perez and his wife, Stephanie, now have two children and are expecting a third child soon.
How colleagues view Perez
Several lobbyists and Perez’s legislative colleagues describe him as “hard-working,” “honest,” “well-liked” and “respected.”
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