President Donald Trump may have risked his chances at re-election by choosing sides in the simmering feud between Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Sen. Rick Scott.
The Trump campaign fired Susie Wiles, who steered his successful 2016 campaign in the state, this week after DeSantis blamed her for leaking evidence of the governor selling access to special interests on golfing trips, reported Politico.
“Losing Susie Wiles is unfortunate and it’s also dangerous,” said Michael Caputo, a former 2016 Trump campaign adviser. “If Trump loses Florida, he loses his presidency, and tinkering with the leadership that helped him win in the first place is just a bad idea.”
DeSantis had begun to view Wiles with suspicion after she helped straighten out his 2018 campaign against Democrat Andrew Gillum, and the GOP congressman won a narrow victory after a recount.
The governor’s wife Casey DeSantis and his chief of staff Shane Strum felt Wiles was growing too powerful in the state GOP, and they asked the Trump campaign to choose a new top staffer for the party.
The Tampa Bay Times published internal DeSantis fundraising documents and emails bearing Wiles’ name that detailed a scheme where lobbyists paid to meet with the governor, and DeSanits blamed Wiles for the leak.
DeSantis complained about Wiles to Trump’s 2020 campaign manager Brad Parscale, and the governor’s donors also pushed the re-election campaign to push her out.
That happened Tuesday, and Wiles allies are angry about the move — and the accusations made against her.
“If anyone thinks it’s a leak by Susie Wiles, they’re dumb,” said Curt Anderson, a longtime adviser to Scott, the former Florida governor. “She’s level-headed, doesn’t get excited, is detailed and organized and she doesn’t get off track. She’s not some flashy, loud-mouth ad-maker or consultant. She does her job and does it well.”
It’s not clear who Trump’s campaign will pick to replace Wiles, although some of his advisers think she could eventually make a comeback.
“The moment something goes wrong in Florida, Trump won’t give a f*ck about what Ron DeSantis thinks,” said one Trump advisor. “Trump made DeSantis, and if he objects to Susie coming back, he’ll be told to shut the f*ck up and mind his own business.”