Speaking exclusively to Reuters, prominent hotel entrepreneur Robert Bigelow, who holds the distinction of being the largest individual donor to a group supporting Ron DeSantis' presidential aspirations, has announced a halt in further donations to the Florida governor's campaign.
Bigelow's decision comes amid mounting concerns over DeSantis' struggling bid for the 2024 Republican nomination, which has failed to make a dent in former President Donald Trump's overwhelming lead.
Bigelow expressed reservations about DeSantis' approach, emphasizing the need for the governor to attract new major donors and adopt a more moderate stance. "He does need to shift to get to moderates. He'll lose if he doesn't ... Extremism isn't going to get you elected," said Bigelow, underscoring his belief that the current strategy may prove ineffective.
The hotelier pointed to a specific policy that he did not support: DeSantis signing a bill in April that banned abortions after six weeks, a move that came after Bigelow had already donated $20 million to the "Never Back Down" super PAC supporting DeSantis. Bigelow revealed that he had conveyed these concerns to the governor's campaign team.
When questioned about the future possibility of resuming donations, Bigelow made it clear that he would wait to see DeSantis generate more fundraising independently. He also hinted at the necessity for substantial financial support. "Not until I see that he's able to generate more on his own. I'm already too big a percentage. A lot of his donors are still on the fence," he said.
While Bigelow continues to support DeSantis as the best candidate for the country, he expressed frustration over the governor's stance on abortion. The controversial bill banning abortions after six weeks has unsettled other donors as well, with some redirecting their support to other candidates. However, Bigelow commended DeSantis for his policies, particularly applauding his firm stance against "wokeism" in education and the workplace.
As DeSantis' campaign grapples with internal organizational issues, viral videos of awkward interactions, and relentless attacks from Trump, the governor's reliance on the "Never Back Down" super PAC has increased. Despite financial scrutiny due to layoffs within the campaign, DeSantis maintains a significant financial advantage over Trump's campaign and allied super PAC.
Bigelow's decision to withhold further donations and his criticisms may further solidify the perception that DeSantis' campaign is facing challenges, raising questions about its ability to effectively compete with Trump and appeal to a broader voter base.
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