Donald Trump brags that his candidate beat DeSantis’: In the Kentucky gubernatorial race and other elections, candidates endorsed by Ron DeSantis lost.
Donald Trump Rules – For Now
In recent months, Trump has been attacking DeSantis frequently, with the governor only occasionally fighting back, and it’s resulted in Trump opening a huge lead in the polls.
The two future opponents squared off this week in another way, when candidates backed by DeSantis ran in primary elections, in one case against a Trump-backed candidate.
The DeSantis-backed candidates lost in both places, and the former president certainly acknowledged it afterward.
According to Politico, candidate Daniel Cameron won the Republican primary in the Kentucky gubernatorial race. Cameron was backed by Trump, while Kelly Craft, who was endorsed by DeSantis, finished third.
“Let me just say the Trump culture of winning is alive and well in Kentucky,” Cameron said in his victory speech. Currently the Kentucky attorney general, Cameron spoke at the Republican National Convention in 2020.
In addition, the DeSantis-endorsed candidate for Jacksonville Mayor, Daniel Davis, lost to Democrat Donna Deegan. Jacksonville had previously been the largest city in the country with a Republican mayor.
Trump did some very characteristic gloating on Truth Social after Tuesday, sharing a New York Times story about both DeSantis-backed candidates losing, and also sharing his own commentary.
“Congratulations to a ‘star’ in Kentucky, Daniel Cameron, who easily won the Republican Nomination for Governor,” Trump said on the social media site. “He had my Complete and Total Endorsement. The DeSanctimonious backed candidate came in a DISTANT third. Ron’s magic is GONE! He also lost, shockingly, in Jacksonville last night (Mayor).”
In a separate post, Trump weighed in on the Jacksonville result.
“Wow! In a big upset, the DeSanctimonious backed Republican candidate for Mayor of Jacksonville, Florida, LOST,” he wrote. “This is a shocker. If they would have asked me to Endorse, he would have won, easily. Too proud to do so. Fools! This is a BIG LOSS for the Republican Party. Remember, ‘Rob’ only won because of me!!!”
What Is Trump Doing?
It’s unclear why Trump refers to DeSantis as “Rob,” although he apparently has decided against the “Meatball Ron” nickname for DeSantis that he reportedly bandied about several months ago.
In addition, it’s far from clear that the backing of DeSantis was any kind of determining factor in either of the elections that were decided on Tuesday. DeSantis had backed Craft, a former United Nations ambassador, just hours before the vote.
The current state of play is an inversion of six months ago, when numerous Trump-backed candidates lost in the midterm elections, while DeSantis cruised to a landslide victory in his re-election race in Florida. This led many to believe that Trump was a spent force politically and could be overtaken by DeSantis, but the last several months have indicated otherwise.
The latest Morning Consult tracker of the 2024 primaries, released Tuesday, has Trump with 61 percent support, compared to DeSantis with 18 percent, and several other candidates with single-digit support. It’s the largest support Trump has enjoyed since the tracking of the race began in December.
At any rate, The Wall Street Journal and other news outlets reported Thursday that DeSantis will, at last, announce his presidential campaign next week, with the governor set to file papers with the Federal Election Commission. A formal kickoff of the campaign will take place after that.
DeSantis last weekend visited Iowa and earned some of his first good press of the campaign, on the same weekend that Trump had to cancel a planned rally in the early caucus state due to severe weather that prevented his travel.
The Florida governor is scheduled to visit the early primary state of New Hampshire this Friday, in order to meet with legislators.
Expertise and Experience
Stephen Silver is a Senior Editor for 19FortyFive. He is an award-winning journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.