Longtime Republican strategist John Thomas, who backed former President Donald Trump in 2016 and 202o, has created a new super PAC to support Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) as a challenger to Trump in 2024.
Ron to the Rescue launched in November and has already received over $1 million in small donations without any organized campaign.
Thomas said he is willing to spend up to $50 million over the next six to 12 months to help DeSantis win the presidential nomination over Trump because he thinks DeSantis is Republicans’ best hope to win the presidency in 2024.
“We already have seven figures worth of gifts, and we are just starting our major donor program,” Thomas told the Washington Examiner. “Our target is to spend at least $50 million, is my goal, between now and when DeSantis announces, but probably more if things go really well.”
Building a ground game
Thomas said that many supporters have said they love Trump, but don’t think he can win in 2024. DeSantis has had the most traction of any other Republican, even though he has not announced that he is running.
Thomas’s super PAC will give DeSantis something he will sorely need if he’s going to defeat Trump for the nomination–a ground game in all 50 states that Thomas says he will build and then turn over to DeSantis if and when he announces a run.
“Our goal, besides just kind of giving him air support, is we’re developing a grassroots network of party leaders and activists in all of the early battleground states,” Thomas explained. “We’re going to be organizing with them, and so any intellectual property we put together, grassroots lists, organizing lists, those kinds of things, we’re going to hand over of whatever we can legally hand over to the governor when he, if he becomes a candidate, so to kind of allow the governor to hit the ground running.”
He wants to hire top staffers now so they don’t go work for Trump just to get a paycheck, since he’s the only one currently running.
Thomas made it clear that he and many contributors to his PAC still like Trump, but that he hasn’t been able to get “unanimous” support even in his own party.
“I think his legal challenges, whether they have merit or not, I would think are going to turn his operation into more of a sclerotic beast,” Thomas said.
“I still like the guy. I just think he should move from a party leader to a party elder. That’s kind of the nuanced dynamic here that I want to make sure it’s not lost in the media, and also voters are reminded that it’s OK to vote for somebody else. It doesn’t mean you don’t like Trump,” Thomas continued.
If DeSantis doesn’t run or doesn’t win the nomination, Thomas is prepared to funnel the PAC contributions to the eventual nominee, even if it’s Trump, he said.