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Ron DeSantis Running Against Trump in 2024? What GOP Insiders Told Me

Ron DeSantis
By Gage Skidmore: U.S. Congressman Ron DeSantis of Florida speaking at the 2017 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland.

Riddle me this: Why would popular Governor Ron DeSantis, off a significant win in his home state of Florida, get into the political cage match of the century with Donald Trump for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination?

First, let us dispatch with the obvious. Yes, I get the idea that DeSantis just won a big victory and surely wants to utilize his newfound political capital and take over the Republican Party. But what is the internal calculus look like for Team DeSantis in making such a decision? I reached out to several GOP insiders I have known for quite a few years from my time in Washington, DC, and my days in the Ted Cruz 2016 for President campaign to get a sense of what that might look like.

And to be honest, I was a little surprised by some of the answers that I received.

GOP Pollster: Why Would Ron DeSantis Risk a War with Trump?

“No, I am sorry, but there is no way Governor DeSantis is going to run – not a chance in hell,” explained one GOP pollster with over fifteen years of experience who asked to comment on background.

“Let us consider just for a second that Desantis did get into the race for 2024. He knows he will have one hell of a time battling Trump for the nomination, and it will get very nasty very fast. I have no doubt DeSantis can go toe to toe against Trump and even beat him, but what happens after? I am not so sure,” he explained.

“For starters, say Desantis wins, will the MAGA wing of the Republican Party come out to support him, or will Trump poison the well against DeSantis? I think he would for sure, and DeSantis then losses in the general election. Sorry, but I just don’t see Ron giving it a run – he, I am sure, gets all of this, and his team is likely talking him out it.”

Ted Cruz For President 2016 Senior Aide: DeSantis Should Run

“I am of the mind that DeSantis knows his stock will never be higher, and now is the time to throw his hat into the ring, or, rather, in early 2023,” explained a Senior Ted Cruz 2016 Senior Aide who has advised multiple GOP presidential candidates.

“Senior GOP leaders will come to DeSantis and beg him to run, especially those who have sparred with Trump in the past and see a chance for revenge. They know DeSantis is better on policy, building coalitions in and outside of the GOP, has more overall political skill, and won’t create a daily crisis on social media by running his big mouth. DeSantis is Trump-lite – or even a better version of the former president – and the GOP needs a populist to embrace Trump’s ideas but get rid of Trump for good. I hope Ron can save us as I think Trump will lose in 2024 if he runs.”

Ron Is Just Hype: Won’t Run At All

One GOP pollster I spoke to expressed an outlier opinion that was interesting to me: Ron DeSantis has peaked and is not a strong 2024 contender at all for some important structural reasons.

“DeSantis won in Florida by such big numbers as so many of his voters were people who moved to Florida in recent years due to the pandemic – the vast majority were Republicans running from COVID restrictions,” the pollster explained. “DeSantis won’t have that going for him in a national matchup against Trump. Why people aren’t seeing that is a little shocking. Hyping this guy up is a mistake.”

DeSantis 2028 Seems More Likely

While the ten or so GOP political veterans I spoke with were nearly evenly split if DeSantis would pull the trigger or not for 2024, one well-known GOP former White House staffer – formerly holding a senior position in the Trump Administration who asked to speak on background – had a different view: DeSantis will run not in 2024 – but in 2028.

“DeSantis is one hell of a politician – smart as hell but knows which way the political winds are going. He knows Trump is all in for 2024 despite what some are saying or a delay in announcing, and it would take a lot to beat him. He also knows Trump commands a lot of loyalty within the GOP and is still, in my view, the party’s leader,” explained the former White House official. “I am of the mind now that DeSantis won’t run in 2028, let the Democrats use the same playbook to beat Trump as they did in 2020 and get ready for 2028 when the party will need need a new leader,” he noted. “Desantis would have two terms as governor on the books and have a real shot.”

Ron DeSantis

Governor Ron DeSantis spoke with attendees at the 2021 Student Action Summit hosted by Turning Point USA at the Tampa Convention Center in Tampa, Florida.

DeSantis Has a Tough Choice to Make on 2024

Conservatives will push hard to get the victorious Florida governor to make a run in 2024, and he will be hard-pressed to say no. My gut tells me DeSantis might watch very closely to see what legal drama unfolds for Trump going into 2023 and then make a call. If I were DeSantis, I would leave my fellow conservatives in suspense and watch what happens. DeSantis might just be rewarded for his patience – no matter what he does.

Harry J. Kazianis, a Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, has been around GOP politics in the Washington, DC, area for roughly a decade. He served on the Russia Foreign Policy Team for the Ted Cruz for President 2016 campaign and was a member of the John Hay Initiative. He has served as Editor-In-Chief for The Diplomat and Executive Editor of The National Interest as well as worked at various think tanks such as the Heritage Foundation. You can follow him on Twitter: @Grecianformula

Written By

Harry J. Kazianis (@Grecianformula) serves as President and CEO of Rogue States Project, a bipartisan national security think tank. He has held senior positions at the Center for the National Interest, the Heritage Foundation, the Potomac Foundation, and many other think tanks and academic institutions focused on defense issues. He served on the Russia task force for U.S. Presidential Candidate Senator Ted Cruz, and in a similar task force in the John Hay Initiative. His ideas have been published in the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, CNN, CNBC, and many other outlets across the political spectrum. He holds a graduate degree in International Relations from Harvard University and is the author of The Tao of A2/AD, a study of Chinese military modernization. Kazianis also has a background in defense journalism, having served as Editor-In-Chief at The Diplomat and Executive Editor for the National Interest.

11 Comments

11 Comments

  1. Rick

    November 10, 2022 at 2:29 pm

    Why? Because he is an a hole just like trump. He loves to pick splinter issues to drum up support from morons. He attacks anyone and anything to incite his followers. Spent a lot of election time wrapping himself in the flag, but he’s self-serving just like the orange buffoon.

  2. Dave Nelson

    November 10, 2022 at 2:32 pm

    It makes sense for Desantis to stand aside and let Trump implode in the 2024 election but if Trump is where he belongs — in jail or a psych ward — Desantis should run and have a very good chance at winning — a sure thing against either Biden or Harris.

  3. Dr. Scooter Van Neuter

    November 10, 2022 at 2:38 pm

    I pray DeSantis runs. Trump is too controversial and tainted for many independents.

  4. pagar

    November 10, 2022 at 3:22 pm

    Trump needs to step aside and make way for young bulls like DeSantis and JD Vance to save the GOP and make it relevant and kick Biden out of the way and put him to pasture.

    In 2024, trump will be as old as Biden is now, old enough that his brain is already riddled with holes or empty spaces so he needs to fade away from the scene now.

  5. phil stacy

    November 10, 2022 at 5:36 pm

    Trump isn’t owned and can’t be controlled by traitors. Trump is a historical iconic leader
    as proven by the number of his enemies who are America’s enemies. Trump is the real president in exile. Political vultures line up to feed on the
    dead American Republic.

  6. Paddy Manning

    November 10, 2022 at 7:26 pm

    Trump will not have the benefit of the chotic numbers of contenders in the primaries this time round and all except the Qanon follow-the-shaman-in-the-buffaloskun lunatics know that Trump would not win in 2024 even against senile ole Massa Durtyfinger Biden and his being the candidate would deliver both the White House and Congress to the Dems.
    Trump is done.

  7. David Chang

    November 11, 2022 at 3:18 am

    God bless people in the world.

    When running for state governor, he did not talk about foreign and monetary policy clearly. If he wants to be president, he shall deal with Fed debt and foreign trade debt, but he should oppose Green New Deal and Modern Monetary Theory. And he should not make foreign policy that will be bankrupt.

    After G. Washington, A. Lincoln, and D. Eisenhower, Trump is the president who leads people not to agree with Democratic Republican Party, but lead people to fear God again.

    But Trump and DeSantis should stop the wrong behaviors that they learned in Presbyterian and Democratic Republican party, and he should not be like king Biden and idol Pelosi. Trump and DeSantis have to learn the humble prayers of Washington and Lincoln, and not worship Peter or Paul.

    So Mr. Trump and DeSantis have to worship Creator only.
    The judgements of God are always true and righteous altogether.

    God bless America.

  8. Daniel Redys

    November 11, 2022 at 10:42 am

    The Republican party will be even more toxic then it is now in two years. There will be several failed impeachments, at least one maybe two shutdowns of the Federal Government. And of course the loser Trump tying to show that he is really a winner. The question really becomes will the Republican party be competitive at all or just be on its way to the dustbin of history. It is time to think about creating a new conservative party to replace it. It had a good run, but too many idiots are in charge now.

  9. GhostTomahawk

    November 11, 2022 at 4:00 pm

    Trump is better served as a kingmaker. Have him rally support for DeSantis who is younger and less controversial.

  10. Porky's revenge

    November 12, 2022 at 8:44 pm

    Picture it as a cage match with two fat guys in leotards fighting for the lunatic fringe.

  11. Jack

    November 12, 2022 at 9:40 pm

    Biden, Trump or DeSantis will not be our next President

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