Ron DeSantis ditched by biggest donor after ‘pointless’ war with Disney

Ron DeSantis scratches his head on stage at the Republic National debate.

Ron DeSantis’ faltering presidential campaign has suffered a new blow after his biggest donor refused to give any more cash to the Florida governor because of the “pointless” vendetta against Disney.

Entrepreneur Kenneth Griffin said he wasn’t impressed with the Republican governor’s past few months of leadership, adding that he believes that DeSantis’ strategy for winning the 2024 election isn’t up to scratch.

While the notoriously anti-LGBTQ+ governor sits firmly in second place in the polls for the Republican nomination, he is still well behind former president Donald Trump, who currently holds more 55 per cent of the vote. So far, DeSantis holds a little less than 15 per cent.

In an interview with CNBC on Monday (18 September), Griffin, who has donated at least $5 million (£4 million), blamed not just a lack of campaign foresight, but DeSantis’ recent actions for the reluctance to continue endorsing the governor.

Just one of the examples he gave was Ron DeSantis’ recent tirade against Disney after it publically opposed Florida’s Don’t Say Gay law which included constant jabs against the company and removing protections from its self-governing district.

“The ongoing battle with Disney is pointless,” Griffin said. “It doesn’t reflect well on the ethos of Florida.”

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While he believed DeSantis’ long-term actions had been “phenomenal,” that “hasn’t been how these [past] few months have played out.”

Griffin added: “If I had my dream, we’d have a great Republican candidate in the primary who was younger, of a different generation, with a different tone for America.

“We’d have a debate around ideas and principles and policies to make this a great nation. We’re not having that dialogue right now.”

‘Extremism isn’t going to get you elected’

Griffin isn’t the only donor looking to step away from the Ron DeSantis campaign. Of the top 50 who gave $160,000 (£129,000) or more during 2022, just eight have chosen to endorse the governor’s campaign.

In a similar interview in August, hotel entrepreneur, Robert Bigelow, told Reuters he would not donate any more money unless more moderate policies are picked up.

“He does need to shift to get to moderates,” he said. “He’ll lose if he doesn’t… extremism isn’t going to get you elected.”