According to a report from Semafor's Shelby Talcott, conservative billionaires are already lining up behind Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) as their top choice for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination having tired of Donald Trump's act.
With the 2022 midterms just a week away, battlelines between Trump the frontrunner and DeSantis, the most serious threat to his domination of the party, are being drawn as donors look for an in, place their bets on who will come out on top.
As Talcott wrote, many who support DeSantis are holding back over fears that the former president will seek retribution should he run and win again on his third try, but that hasn't stopped DeSantis from banking millions to be used in the future.
"DeSantis has put up huge cash figures this cycle, breaking the gubernatorial fundraising record in September. Of the more than $195 million in contributions to his official campaign and super PAC, less than $10 million came from contributions below $200, according to Open Secrets, the traditional threshold for small donors," the report states. "At least 42 billionaires, or their family members, contributed to his re-election as of May, according to a USA Today analysis. Citadel CEO Ken Griffin donated $5 million to a pro-DeSantis group and another $5 million to the Florida Republican Party as part of his $100 million-plus midterm spree."
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According to conservative donor Dan Eberhart, a vocal Trump critic, "I know a lot of folks that are on record for Trump but really want something new.”
Noting that multiple donors were not willing to go on the record about who they will be supporting, Talcott wrote, "... several donors who spoke to Semafor see strong indications that DeSantis is the preferred candidate of big money. Veteran party backers are hoping he can keep the MAGA base excited with calculated Trump-like stunts, like sending migrants to Martha’s Vineyard, but without the same erratic behavior that’s turned off moderate voters and undermined more electable candidates."
According to one GOP insider, even the big money donors in Trump's home base of Palm Beach are taking a hard look at DeSantis, explaining, "The established donor class is behind DeSantis more than Trump,” before adding that “people are done with Trump.”
Talcott cautioned, "Small donors can sometimes be an early proxy for voter support as well. It’s easy to see how a competitive Trump primary might mirror his prior victories, with more well-off voters and established figures backing his opponents, only to be overwhelmed by Trump’s immovable leads with working class Republicans and independents drawn to his personal brand."
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