As concerns grow over alleged missteps made by the presidential campaign of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, top Republican donors are said to be in private discussions over whether to begin putting their money behind another primary challenger — Sen. Tim Scott.
Though many high-dollar donors have tired of the GOP frontrunner, former President Donald Trump, and worry about his ability to win the 2024 general election, their faith in DeSantis has been “shaken by early campaign missteps,” according to a report in POLITICO.
Donors are also reportedly concerned over DeSantis’ “hardline” positions on abortion, transgender rights, and other issues driving the American culture war.
“Billionaire businessman Ronald Lauder, the Estée Lauder makeup heir who supported Trump in 2020, recently flew to South Carolina to meet with Scott, the state’s junior senator and long shot presidential candidate, according to three people aware of the late June meeting,” the outlet stated.
The latest polling information shows Scott with only about 5 percent of the party’s support for the nomination. Trump is still the favorite, consistently polling above 50 percent within the GOP.
Scott pushing ahead of DeSantis could prove difficult, considering DeSantis is averaging about 20 points ahead of him. But, for wealthy backers seeking an alternative to Trump, few candidates besides DeSantis are within striking range.
Lauder, who donated $200,000 to DeSantis’ gubernatorial campaign in 2018, told the New York Post in late 2022 that he had “no plans to support Trump” in the 2024 election. But Lauder, who would not comment on the initial meeting, discussed with Scott what the senator sees as his path to victory, a source told POLITICO.
“A lot of donors that I’ve met are all curious and want to meet Tim and see what he’s about,” Andy Sabin, a metal mogul and Republican contributor, told the new outlet. “He’s the one guy running who’s got some personality and charisma. His delivery is terrific.”
Scott, who launched a presidential exploratory committee in April, has raked in more than $6 million from more than 53,000 unique donors during the second quarter of 2023, according to a memo released by his campaign manager.
Scott’s campaign now has $21 million cash-on-hand.