Gov. Ron DeSantis expects a successful Statesman’s Dinner on Saturday.
He predicted high turnout at the Republican Party of Florida’s annual fundraising dinner buoyed by President Donald Trump’s appearance. Speaking to reporters after Tuesday’s state Cabinet meeting, DeSantis added that both U.S. Senators and every Republican U.S. Representatives are expected to attend.
But the changing plans for this year’s dinner, originally scheduled for Nov. 9 in Orlando, raised questions over how successful the fundraising effort had been. In late October, POLITICO reported no donor or corporate tables had been sold and DeSantis had not raised any money for the event.
On Tuesday, the Governor sang a more positive tune after pushing back on claims that he had personally pledged to raise $2 million for the dinner, saying the dinner would be successful.
“I think we’ve done way better than what people thought we’d do and way better than they have done recently for sure,” DeSantis said.
The change in plans came amid apparent infighting between DeSantis and RPOF Chairman Joe Gruters after personnel preference differences between the two. But DeSantis pointed elsewhere.
“If there’s one thing that’s challenging when you have a presidential visit, I can’t put this out two months, three months in advance. It’s just not the way it works, but it’ll be good,” DeSantis said.
Florida Politics reported that GOP leaders were calling for the ouster of party Executive Director Peter O’Rourke, a Trump administration alumnus. Some Florida Republicans voiced concerns over the Governor’s controversial pick, one made at Gruters’ expense.
However, DeSantis excoriated the criticisms of O’Rourke as “hooey” and “scuttlebutt.” And his statement in last month’s press release announcing the Statesman’s Dinner’s new date suggested harmony within the party:
“I am looking forward to President Donald J. Trump joining Florida Republicans as we close out a great year of building a unified front in a critical upcoming election year.”
Last week, the Governor welcomed Trump home to Florida during the President’s first in-state rally since changing his residence in late September.