Ron DeSantis’ donors and allies question if he’s ready for 2024

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At a recent gathering of 16 prominent Republicans, a number of DeSantis supporters discussed if he should run against Trump or wait until 2028.

WASHINGTON — Ron DeSantis may be missing his moment.

A number of the Florida governor’s donors and allies are worried his recent stumbles suggest he may not be ready for a brutal fight against Donald Trump. Some feel DeSantis needs to accelerate his timeline to run for the GOP presidential nomination and begin directly confronting Trump if he’s to have any chance of thwarting the former president’s momentum. Others believe DeSantis should sidestep Trump altogether and wait until 2028 to run.

At a Sunday luncheon following the annual Red Cross ball in Palm Beach, Florida, a group of 16 prominent Republicans, described by one attendee as a mix of DeSantis backers and Trump “skeptics,” discussed misgivings about the governor’s standing for the future if he tussles with the former president.

“They liked him — many of them might even support him,” the person who was at the event said of DeSantis. “But they thought on balance that his long-term future was better without him trying to take Trump head on.”

“He will get scarred up” by Trump, the person added.

Then there’s conservative billionaire shipping goods magnate Richard Uihlein and his wife, Elizabeth, whose $500,000 in combined contributions ranked them among the most generous donors to DeSantis’ 2022 re-election campaign.

A person familiar with the strategy around Uihlein’s spending said that right now, “The brakes are pumped,” adding, “The polling really made different people pause.”

A spokesperson for the Uihleins declined to comment.

The fears of some of his own supporters, along with a growing sentiment among GOP operatives that Trump may be impossible to defeat — even with a possible indictment looming over him — present DeSantis with the conundrum of trying to demonstrate that he is a viable presidential candidate before he even launches his anticipated campaign.

By Dasha BurnsJonathan AllenAllan Smith and Henry J. Gomez

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