Largest DeSantis donor might freeze him out over extreme views

August 8, 2023

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis could be facing a cash crunch soon if he doesn't make changes to his campaign that please his largest donor so far.

Hotel entrepreneur Robert Bigelow, who donated $20 million to a DeSantis super PAC, said he will freeze donations "for now" unless major changes are made.

Bigelow is the largest single donor to the pro-DeSantis "Never Back Down" super PAC, which has raised $130 million since March.

He now wants to see moderation in DeSantis's message in order to continue his support.

Donor wants shift toward moderation

"He does need to shift to get to moderates. He'll lose if he doesn't ... Extremism isn't going to get you elected," Bigelow said in an interview.

He said he told the DeSantis campaign about reservations about its extreme views, such as the six-week abortion ban DeSantis signed into law in Florida after Bigelow's large donation.

Bigelow also said he wants to see DeSantis raise more money "on his own" before he would give more. "Not until I see that he's able to generate more on his own. I'm already too big a percentage," Bigelow said. "A lot of his donors are still on the fence."

Bigelow had also given $10 million to DeSantis's re-election campaign in Florida, and was such a strong supporter that he said he would "go without food" to provide him with funds.

Troubled campaign

When these kinds of supporters falter, it shows the trouble DeSantis's campaign has been having in recent months.

Other large donors, including Andy Sabin, hedge fund manager Ken Griffin, and investor Jeffrey Yass have also withdrawn their support, according to Politico. Without these large cash infusions, DeSantis's campaign will not have the resources it needs to gain more support from voters.

DeSantis has not been able to make much headway in the polls since announcing his candidacy in May, and continues to run 20 to 30 points behind former President Donald Trump despite Trump being indicted three times in the last few months.

It will soon become apparent whether DeSantis has any chance of coming back from his current slump, and whether it's worth putting more millions into his campaign.

The Trump phenomenon

DeSantis was seen a few months ago as Trump without the mean tweets and potential indictments, but when those indictments materialized it led to widespread outrage among Republicans and bolstered Trump's support in response.

If DeSantis can't generate that kind of support, we may have a president who has to pardon himself just to govern outside of a jail cell--if he can get enough people to elect him despite the indictments, that is.

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