Six months ago, Ron DeSantis looked like he had the GOP nomination locked up. The former JAG had won the Florida gubernatorial race by a 20-point margin over Charlie Crist. Meanwhile, Donald Trump was floundering amidst a series of scandals and lawsuits. DeSantis surged ahead in the polls, and everyone started talking about the passing of the GOP baton from Trump to DeSantis.
Now, however, the seemingly invincible Trump is comfortably ahead in the polls while DeSantis flounders to wiggle out from his self-inflicted Disney debacle.
Trump is, once again, the favorite to win the GOP nomination (which would be his third consecutive)
Yet, Ron DeSantis shouldn’t be dismissed.
He’s still a viable candidate with a few factors going for him.
DeSantis is well funded
“As he prepares to enter the presidential race in the coming weeks DeSantis sits atop accounts poised to support his candidacy that total more than $110 million, according to public filings and people who represent the entities,” POLITICO reported. “And that’s all without him opening an official campaign committee account.”
Over $110 million. That’s an enormous amount. To put DeSantis’s cash in perspective, consider that Donald Trump – the most prominent figure in American politics – has raised about $55 million.
DeSantis won’t have a problem raising more money, either.
“If DeSantis gets in, he’s going to have a huge amount of momentum and I think the donor class and the raiser class are going to be with him,” Roy Bailey, a Texas fundraiser, told POLITICO. “The people I speak to are either major donors or major raisers. For a time now, it has been very clear to me from my conversations around the country with those people that they are hoping DeSantis gets in the race and I think their money will follow.”
DeSantis swings big
DeSantis goes for the fences with gimmick after gimmick. DeSantis has a talent for tapping into the culture war and for generating headlines. Sometimes it works in his favor. Sometimes it doesn’t. DeSantis is currently hemorrhaging support over his “war” with Disney.
But Conservatives across the country cheered when DeSantis loaded up a plane full of migrants and parked the thing in Martha’s Vineyard. Likewise, DeSantis was celebrated for pushing back against the CDC’s COVID guidelines. The gambits worked. The point is DeSantis is savvy and always keeping an eye out for a way to make news and gain favor. He’ll likely continue taking big home-run swings throughout the campaign; maybe one of them will land and push DeSantis over the top.
Ron DeSantis could benefit from Trump fatigue
Many Americans, including a portion of the conservative population, are fatigued with Donald Trump. He’s a lot. And he’s been a lot for a long time now. And while Trump is still the frontrunner, there is a portion of the GOP hoping for an alternative. Could that portion of the GOP bloom over the course of the campaign, perhaps reaching a critical mass? Sure, it’s possible.
I’m not betting against Trump given his ability to survive seemingly anything. But DeSantis could make things interesting given his cash, his propensity for pulling off political stunts, and the nation’s collective Trump fatigue.
Harrison Kass is the Senior Editor at 19FortyFive. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, Harrison joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison holds a BA from Lake Forest College, a JD from the University of Oregon, and an MA from New York University. Harrison listens to Dokken.