Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida is planning to run for governor of the state in 2026, according to reports — and while he has called them “clickbait,” he has not denied them.
NBC News reported Monday that the fourth-term congressman was “widely expected” to launch a gubernatorial bid in his home state in two years.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis — the No. 2 GOP presidential candidate in 2024 — is in his second term and cannot run for a third.
DeSantis’ resounding re-election victory last fall has had many political forecasters calling the state a Republican firewall after decades of being a battleground state.
NBC News reported Gaetz’s possible run for governor had emerged as a major topic of conversation inside the state in political circles.
“Gaetz has long been considered on the shortlist of those who will try to seek the Republican nomination for governor, a field that is expected to be crowded because the incumbent, Ron DeSantis, will be facing term limits,” the outlet said. “DeSantis is currently running for president but would have two years remaining in the governor’s mansion if that run falls short.”
Four people at an event in Tallahassee on Saturday said Gaetz “strongly implied several times he would be running for governor,” NBC News reported.
One person described as a lobbyist told the outlet, “There was a lot of talk about it at the reception last night, and Gaetz was telling people to basically expect him to be in.”
Another said, “He’s 100 percent in. … I think Gaetz is an instant front-runner and from what I hear he’s already won the Trump primary” — meaning former President Donald Trump will endorse him.
In a comment to NBC News, Gaetz said his focus is on getting Trump back into the White House next fall.
“Many did encourage me to consider running for governor one day,” he said. “But we have an outstanding governor who will be in that position through 2026.”
He did not rule out running, but he told the outlet, “The NBC story is overblown clickbait.”
Insider also reported Gaetz said he had been urged “relentlessly” by “dozens” of state lawmakers to run.
“I wasn’t focused on any of that [gubernatorial] talk, though,” Gaetz said. “My sole mission right now is to kill the Donalds CR that funds Ukraine, Jack Smith, and a weaponized Biden government.”
Gaetz was elected to the House of Representatives in 2016 and has cruised to re-election in three consecutive races in Florida’s 1st Congressional District, which includes much of the state’s Panhandle.
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