Ron DeSantis’ Utah fade included pingpong loss, David Wells snub
Image via AP.

AP Utah Desantis
Little things meant a lot in the Beehive State, according to new reporting.

Last year, Ron DeSantis arguably was strongest as a presidential candidate in Utah for a short period of time, a reality that did not last.

How did DeSantis go from a candidate keynoting a speech in the Spring to Utah Republicans — one that included some of his first stump remarks about the just-signed six-week abortion ban and constitutional carry legislation, along with a bizarre assertion that Florida was the “Utah of the Southeast” — to a final fade there that mirrored collapses elsewhere on the GOP Primary map?

The answer, per the Deseret News, seems to be his failure to personally connect with some of the biggest players in the Beehive State. DeSantis failed the test when it came to a friendly game of pingpong and an autographed baseball from a turn-of-the-century hurler for the New York Yankees.

DeSantis apparently was reluctant to play a game of table tennis with billionaire Scott Keller, with staff saying he didn’t have time before DeSantis finally agreed to play, and lost.

Keller’s take?

“He wasn’t all that happy to play, especially after I beat him.”

Another friendly gesture likewise was rebuffed, another source told the Utah paper of record.

Don Peay, the founder of Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife, knew DeSantis was a former collegiate baseball player, and he secured a signed ball by ex-Major League pitcher David Wells to present to DeSantis as a gift. When Peay offered it to DeSantis, he was met by a blank stare,” the Deseret News noted.

“He didn’t even say thank you. Presidential politics is all about connecting with people. I knew then he couldn’t be President,” Peay said.

In isolation, these gaffes may seem like more humorous stories of the sort that have dogged the Governor, whose interpersonal skills have been a matter of constant discussion.

But given the Governor’s identification with “Red Sox Nation,” an affinity birthed and nurtured through his seven year stint in the Ivy League, he seemingly would have been more interested in a signed ball from a pitcher who had a 15-win year with his historically favorite team in 2005.

But what’s clear is that the Governor squandered opportunities in Utah, where Deseret reports he had no interest in endorsements from “woke Republicans” like U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney and Gov. Spencer Cox. Meanwhile, the decidedly unwoke U.S. Sen. Mike Lee ended up endorsing Donald Trump before the Governor left the 2024 race.

Polling in April around the time of his Utah trip showed DeSantis leading Trump in a head-to-head race, an advantage affirmed with a 25-point win in a straw poll. Yet just months later, he was at 15%, with Trump doubling his support and Nikki Haley statistically tied with DeSantis.

Would pingpong diplomacy and a simulation of happiness over a retired hurler’s autograph have helped?

What’s clear from the Utah dispatch: They wouldn’t have made things worse.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


  • Cheesy Floridian

    February 5, 2024 at 9:17 am

    It’s just another example that DeSantis doesn’t know how to connect to people or understand what is really important to the average American. He say he doesn’t look at polls or listen to the “legacy media” or negative reviews. But maybe he should.

  • Dont Say FLA

    February 5, 2024 at 12:04 pm

    Ron DeSantis sounded good on paper to the Beehive state voters. But then Rhonda showed up and Everybody Hates Rhonda.

    Poor Rhonda, having play ping pong

    Ping pong are not the type of balls Rhonda handles well.

  • Elmo

    February 5, 2024 at 12:11 pm

    His head must have bobbled a lot when he lost at butthurt ping pong. Scha-wing battah.

  • No Laws No Consequences: Florida

    February 5, 2024 at 12:56 pm

    Not MAGAt enough for psycho David Wells the Qanon Yankee…

  • TJC

    February 5, 2024 at 4:02 pm

    When DeSantis told the people of Utah that Florida was the “Utah of the Southeast,” it never occurred to him that they might find that insulting.

  • woke up all right

    February 6, 2024 at 7:50 am

    OK, Rona’s failed campaign is over already. It’s time to not waste any more words on this sad chapter. Let’s talk about relevant topics like the Legislature’s attacks on personal liberty, the crisis in property insurance, poverty, homelessness, Taylor Swift’s Super Bowl appearance odds, etc

Comments are closed.


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