As Gov. Ron DeSantis continues his tour of Asia, Israel and the United Kingdom, cracks may be emerging in his domestic donor fortress.
The latest indications of attrition come from a New York Times article, in which one of the Governor’s biggest backers is said to be “evaluating” the 2024 Primary landscape.
According to the Times, Citadel CEO Ken Griffin has been alienated by DeSantis’ framing of the Ukraine war as a “territorial dispute,” in a statement provided to the now-canceled Tucker Carlson show on Fox News. Additionally, the state’s new six-week abortion ban, which DeSantis messaged about tentatively during political speeches, reportedly rankled the financier.
While some in Griffin’s orbit still think it’s likely DeSantis continues to get his donations, others speculate Griffin may donate to other alternatives to Donald Trump in the still-nascent 2024 Republican field.
“Ken may not agree with all of the Governor’s policies, but he appreciates all that the Governor has done to make Florida one of the most attractive states to live and work in America,” a spokesman told the Times.
That stops far short of a ringing endorsement, and an on-record statement went no farther.
The Griffin report comes days after news that another significant donor, Thomas Peterffy, has begun to reevaluate DeSantis in the wake of the abortion ban and what The Guardian calls “book banning.” DeSantis, of course, says such reports are a “political narrative” and a “hoax.”
“I have put myself on hold. Because of his stance on abortion and book banning … myself, and a bunch of friends, are holding our powder dry,” the CEO of Interactive Brokers said this month.
“I am more reluctant to back him,” Peterffy added. “We are waiting to see who among the Primary candidates is most likely to be able to win the General, and then put all of our firepower behind them.”
DeSantis is down significantly in virtually all polls of the race conducted since the former President’s indictment and arrest in New York weeks ago.
Despite the recent setbacks, he has resources.
The supportive Never Back Down super PAC claims to have raised at least $30 million already. And the Friends of Ron DeSantis political committee raised more than $13.6 million in February and March, with more than $85 million cash on hand as of the end of last month.
In addition to leveraging the statewide political committee for a potential presidential run, DeSantis also intends to host donors at the taxpayer-funded Governor’s Mansion in coming weeks, according to the Times. So there’s still a path. But with prominent donors going on record with qualms, the path seems to narrow with each passing news cycle.