Common origins but rivals toward White House: DeSantis and McCarthy, Republicans challenge Molise

Ron DeSantis and Kevin McCarthy are two names that say little to the Italian public. Soon, however, they may become two familiar faces in American politics. The former is governor of Florida and a rising star in the Republican Party as a possible challenger to Trump in the primaries heading into the 2024 election. The second is a star right-wing bigwig, pro-Trump and papable next speaker of the House. Both are of Molise descent, just like Democrat Nancy Pelosi, who serves precisely as speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.

But while the origins of Pelosi, a recent honorary citizen of Fornelli, have not been a mystery for a while, little is still known about the Molise ancestors of DeSantis and McCarthy.

Ron DeSantis, 44, is one of the emerging names in the U.S. Republican Party. Elected governor of Florida in 2019, the state in which he was born in 1978, he was confirmed a few days ago to the same office partly due to a very high degree of popularity. DeSantis is emerging in recent weeks for positions distant from those of former U.S. President Donald Trump with whom he may clash in a few months in the primaries for the presidential nomination.

One has to go quite far back in time to find DeSantis’ Molise ancestors. Specialized American sites reconstruct his family tree and report that the Florida governor Carolyn Delisio’s maternal grandmother was born in Ohio to Italian parents. Great-grandfather Robert was originally from Pacentro, a town in the province of L’Aquila while great-grandmother Anna DeOto was born in Castelbottaccio in 1898. The family tree also reveals the origins of great-great-grandfather Ottavio Deoto, born in 1877 in Campobasso. Distant origins but still ascertaining Molise blood in the veins of the 44-year-old Florida governor.

Very different is the story of Kevin Owen McCarthy, now 57 years old and a native of California. McCarthy is currently in his eighth term in the U.S. House and has been the minority leader of the U.S. House of Representatives for nearly a decade. For him, there are rumors of an upcoming appointment as speaker of the House, as a successor to Nancy Pelosi.

Unlike DeSantis, McCarthy is a follower of Donald Trump to the extent that he did not recognize Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election but later condemned the attack on the Capitol on January 6, 2021.

Even in his case, one has to go very far back in time to find his Molise origins. Specifically, McCarthy’s maternal grandfather was Guido Palladino, Italian from Giuseppe Palladino and Alisa Malerba. The 57-year-old House member’s two great-grandparents were both from Molise, from Carpinone and Campobasso, respectively.

Whether the two will become rivals in the race for the White House or ally to try to oust Joe Biden in 2024 is still too early to know but certainly common Molise ancestry could be what brings them together.

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