n the worst kept secret in the political world, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is preparing a campaign to challenge former President Donald Trump for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination. With over $150 million in PAC funds leftover from his gubernatorial run and a deep bench of anti-Trump billionaire donors, the Governor is methodically preparing to challenge the man who is more responsible for putting DeSantis in the Governor mansion than any other Republican—including DeSantis himself.
I have written and spoken extensively about the fact that I would view a DeSantis campaign challenging Trump as a singular act of disloyalty that is downright treacherous. DeSantis was essentially an unknown back bench neocon Congressman who actually refused to endorse Donald Trump in 2016 after Trump had clinched the Republican nomination until Trump raised him from obscurity to the Governor’s mansion.
The Florida Republican establishment, including all 67 Republican county chairmen, every elected Republican in the State House and Senate, as well as every Republican member of the Florida congressional delegation except Congressman Matt Gaetz endorsed former Congressman and State Agricultural Commissioner Adam Putnam. DeSantis rose to Trump’s attention by rebranding himself as a strong critic of the Russian collusion investigation – taking to FOX television and conservative talk radio to offer a spirited defense of the 45th President.
Polling in single digits and having fundraising problems, DeSantis prevailed only due to Congressman Matt Gaetz helping him persuade Trump to render his all important endorsement. Given Trump’s extraordinary popularity after his election with Florida Republicans, the tweeted endorsement of DeSantis took the Florida political world by storm and DeSantis skyrocketed to a solid victory in the Republican Primary. “It was like a nuclear explosion,” Agriculture Commissioner Putnam would later tell President Donald Trump.
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