Ron DeSantis, once Trump’s biggest threat, ends 2024 White House run

The Disney fight was one that pro-business critics within the party said DeSantis didn’t need to wage.

While many major donors threw their support behind DeSantis early on, they began to rebel as early as the summer.

Robert Bigelow, who gave millions to the super PAC fundraising group backing DeSantis, told Reuters in August he was cutting off funding, turned off by the governor’s uncompromising position on abortion.


DeSantis’ troubles began before he ever entered the race.

In March, when Trump was indicted in New York on charges he conspired to conceal hush money payments to a porn star, the former president received a significant bump in the polls as Republicans rallied around him. Many of them believed Trump’s claims that law enforcement officials were targeting him to keep him out of office.

Several DeSantis allies say the governor waited too long to become a candidate, finally throwing his hat into the ring in May, over six months after Trump had done so. That left DeSantis open to blistering attacks by Trump, while the governor himself did little to defend himself, insisting he was not a candidate.

When DeSantis did formally launch his White House run in May 2023, it was a glitch-filled disaster on Twitter, now known as X, an inauspicious start for a campaign predicated on the governor’s executive competence.

The campaign then overhired, burning through cash at a rapid rate. DeSantis let go of some 38 staffers in July and ousted his campaign manager in August, sowing a narrative of internal chaos that proved hard to shake.

He outsourced much of the traditional work of a campaign to an outside super PAC, which can accept donations of unlimited size, but cannot coordinate with the campaign itself.

The campaign and the PAC, known as Never Back Down, came to distrust one another. A series of back-to-back departures of senior staffers from the PAC in November and December created a sense of turmoil that furthered the narrative that the governor’s campaign was mortally wounded. 

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