Republican Florida governor candidate DeSantis resigns from Congress

WASHINGTON, Sept 10 (Reuters) - U.S. Representative Ron DeSantis, a Republican in a close race for governor of Florida, on Monday notified House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan that he was resigning immediately from Congress.

In a letter to Ryan, DeSantis noted that the gubernatorial campaign would keep him out of Washington for most of the remaining House sessions before the November election. As a result, it would be "inappropriate for me to accept a (congressional) salary," DeSantis wrote.

DeSantis' term in the House would have expired in January whether he won the gubernatorial race or not.

His Democratic opponent for governor is Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, who is black. Late last month, there were reports that DeSantis made a racially-tinged remark in referring to Gillum. DeSantis has denied the remark was racially motivated.

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Andrew Gillum, Democratic nominee for Florida governor
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Andrew Gillum, Democratic nominee for Florida governor
Democratic candidate Andrew Gillum speaks at a Florida League of Cities Gubernatorial Candidates Forum in Hollywood, Florida, U.S. August 15, 2018. REUTERS/Joe Skipper
Candidate Andrew Gillum who is seeking the Democratic nomination for Florida governor, speaks to voters on a tour of barbershops in Sarasota, Florida, U.S., July 18, 2018. Picture taken July 18, 2018. REUTERS/Letitia Stein
Candidate Andrew Gillum who is seeking the Democratic nomination for Florida governor, speaks to voters on a tour of barbershops in Sarasota, Florida, U.S., July 18, 2018. Picture taken on July 18, 2018. REUTERS/Letitia Stein
Candidate Andrew Gillum watches a video, which shows his rise from the son of a bus driver, to the mayor of Florida's capital city, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for state governor, during a campaign visit to a barbershop in Sarasota, Florida, U.S., July 18, 2018. Picture taken July 18, 2018. REUTERS/Letitia Stein
Candidate Andrew Gillum who is seeking the Democratic nomination for Florida governor, speaks to voters on a tour of barbershops in Sarasota, Florida, U.S., July 18, 2018. Picture taken July 18, 2018. REUTERS/Letitia Stein
Tallahassee, Florida Mayor, Andrew D. Gillum addresses the audience at the Netroots Nation annual conference for political progressives in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S. August 10, 2017. REUTERS/Chris Aluka Berry
Tallahassee, Florida Mayor, Andrew D. Gillum addresses the audience at he Netroots Nation annual conference for political progressives in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S. August 10, 2017. REUTERS/Chris Aluka Berry
Tallahassee, Florida Mayor Andrew Gillum speaks during the third day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S. July 27, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar/File Photo
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On Monday, the Washington Post reported that DeSantis in the past has been a speaker at events organized by a conservative columnist who has said that African-Americans owe their freedom to white people and that the "only serious race war" in the United States targets whites.

Stephen Lawson, a DeSantis campaign spokesman, said the decision to resign from Congress was not related to those reports.

The Nov. 6 election between DeSantis, who has been endorsed by President Donald Trump, and Gillum is seen as too close to call. The winner will replace Republican Governor Rick Scott, who also is in a tight U.S. Senate race against incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson.

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Florida governor Ron DeSantis
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Florida governor Ron DeSantis
US Representative Ron DeSantis, Republican of Florida, and candidate for Florida Governor, speaks during a rally with US President Donald Trump at Florida State Fairgrounds Expo Hall in Tampa, Florida, on July 31, 2018. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
Representative Ron DeSantis, a Republican from Florida, right, talks to Representative Jason Chaffetz, a Republican from Utah and chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, before a House Judiciary Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, May 24, 2016. The hearing is part of some Republican lawmakers' push to impeach International Revenue Service (IRS) Commissioner John Koskinen for allegedly failing to cooperate with an investigation after the IRS reportedly targeted conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg
UNITED STATES - May 16: Ron DeSantis (R) Florida is interviewed at Roll Call in Washington, D.C. (Photo By Douglas Graham/Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - MARCH 3: Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., speaks at the American Conservative Union's CPAC conference at National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Md., on Thursday, March 3, 2016. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 08: Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) speaks at the National Oversight and Government Reform Committee on moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem on Capitol Hill on November 8, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JANUARY 14: Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., is interviewed by a TV news crew outside of the House chamber as Congress prepares to vote on defunding President Obama's executive actions on immigration on Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2015. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - JUNE 18: Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., speaks at a news conference at the House Triangle to oppose the Marketplace Fairness Act, also called the internet tax, which would require online retailers to collect a sales tax at the time of a purchase. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
U.S. President Donald Trump talks with Republican Florida governor candidate Ron DeSantis during a Make America Great Again Rally at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa, Florida, U.S., July 31, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
Republican Florida governor candidate Ron DeSantis speaks as U.S. President Donald Trump stands during a Make America Great Again Rally at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa, Florida, U.S., July 31, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 09: Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) speaks during an event hosted by the Zionist Organization of America on Capitol Hill on May 9, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images)
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(Reporting by Richard Cowan and Susan Cornwell Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Paul Simao)

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