GOP Mega-Donor Scraps Plans To Back DeSantis

Citing abortion and book banning, Florida's richest man vows to consider other candidates to support in 2024

A billionaire mega donor says he is abandoning plans to help fund a potential presidential campaign of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis over DeSantis’s positions on social issues.

“I have put myself on hold,” Thomas Peterffy said in an interview with the Financial Times (FT). “Because of his stance on abortion and book banning...myself, and a bunch of friends, are holding our powder dry.”

Peterffy, who ranks as the richest man in Florida and whose net worth is estimated around $26 billion, also told FT that he no longer thinks DeSantis has the same odds against former President Donald Trump, who is the frontrunner for the GOP nomination, leading DeSantis by around 30-points, according to some recent polls.

Last week, DeSantis signed into a law a bill that bans abortions after six weeks. Given that six weeks is usually the earliest point at which a woman finds out she’s pregnant, critics have called the legislation a near total ban on abortion.

Following the historic decision by the U.S. Supreme Court last year in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturned Roe v. Wade, Republican controlled states across the nation quickly moved to pass sweeping abortion restrictions. The issue, however, has created a backlash, motivating scores of left-leaning voters to go to the polls and vote against Republicans, which cost them recent elections in Michigan, New Hampshire, Nevada, and Kansas.

DeSantis has come under fire over signing a law requiring teachers to remove books on race and diversity that aren’t on a state-approved reading list, and for backing a measure that blocked an advanced placement (AP) black history course.

In 2022, Peterffy donated $7.7 million to Republican campaigns and conservative political action committees, which was $500,000 more than during the 2020 election cycle, FT reported.

In January, Peterffy told FT he was a DeSantis fan and looked forward to backing him. But, those sentiments have cooled.

“I am more reluctant to back him,” Peterffy said. “We are waiting to see who among the primary candidates is most likely to be able to win the general, and then put all of our firepower behind them.”

Though DeSantis has yet to formally announce a bid for the White House, a pro-DeSantis PAC just released an attack ad against Trump.

One Democratic strategist told CNN’s Jim Acosta the ad was “completely lame.”

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