Ron DeSantis is continuing his spiral into loserdom as his campaign rapidly sheds its biggest donors, according to a new report from Politico published on Wednesday.
Of the 50 top donors who contributed at least $160,000 to DeSantis’s 2022 gubernatorial reelection campaign, fewer than one-third (only 16 people) have contributed to the Never Back Down super PAC. Another eight donors have contributed to DeSantis’s presidential campaign directly, but still, that’s less than half of the total donors who supported him just last year.
Former Governor Bruce Rauner was one of DeSantis’s biggest boosters, having donated nearly $1 million to DeSantis during his 2022 reelection bid. Now Rauner says he’s planning to back another Republican presidential candidate: Nikki Haley.
“I think [DeSantis]’s done a terrific job as governor of Florida, and I’ve been, as I think you know, a big supporter of him in that role,” Rauner said. “I think Nikki Haley probably has the best chance to win the general election.… I think everyone is trying to sort things out. We gotta win, we gotta win the general.”
Last month, Rob Bigelow, the biggest donor to Never Back Down and to DeSantis’s reelection campaign, said that he would hold off from writing more checks for the super PAC until DeSantis adopted more moderate policies and generated more of his own funds.
Five other donors from the list of 50 are now supporting other Republican candidates, and of those who are still donating to DeSantis’s campaign, five are splitting their donations between DeSantis and other candidates.
The DeSantis campaign is still well funded; Never Back Down had nearly $97 million in June, which far surpasses his Republican competition, including Donald Trump. But those funds aren’t from new donors. According to Politico, $82 million of those funds are actually from DeSantis’s reelection campaign.
The DeSantis campaign has been marred by a series of failures and humiliations, which may help to explain his donors’ vanishing act. In July, the DeSantis campaign cut a third of its staff, and in August it replaced its campaign manager. But despite all his attempts at a campaign “reset,” his poll numbers continue to lag. In a CNN poll published Tuesday, DeSantis now trails Trump by a whopping 34 points.