4/21/23 - Newsletter
Ron’s presidential aspirations are sinking quicker than the Titanic
Nervous GOP megadonors are pausing their donations to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis due to his extreme position on social issues and abortion. "Because of his stance on abortion and book banning … myself, and a bunch of friends, are holding our powder dry," billionaire Thomas Peterffy told the Financial Times. DeSantis signed a six-week abortion ban last week into law, despite a March UNF poll indicating that 61% of Republican Florida voters opposed banning abortions after six weeks. The law provides a 15-week exception for victims of rape, incest, and sex trafficking as long as they provide proof with a filed police report.
In an attempt to secure endorsements, Ron's allies reached “out to members of the state's congressional delegation to press them to hold off on endorsing in the presidential primary for now." It backfired. 10 Republicans from Florida's congressional delegation have already endorsed former President Donald Trump.
After attending a policy meet and greet event with Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill on Tuesday in hopes of garnering support from members of Congress, Rep. Lance Gooden (R-TX) immediately tweeted his support for Donald Trump after meeting with the Florida governor. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) told Semafor that he's not interested in getting involved in endorsements for 2024 just yet. But noted that he and DeSantis "haven't spoken" in "a number of months."
Former Governor Chris Christie (R) of New Jersey, during an interview with Semafor, said that DeSantis "is not a conservative," and he didn't mince words on the governor's attacks on Disney:
During a fundraiser event called the Lincoln Day dinner hosted by the Allen County GOP in Fort Wayne, Indiana, Chris Christie (R) expressed distress about the trajectory of today's Republican Party blaming candidates and GOPs who are taking us backwards. Christie is doing what other Republican candidates should be doing: denouncing Trump, saying he could beat the former president in a 2024 match-up. He has not decided if he will jump into the race.
“He cannot win a general election nor should he. I think he’s disqualified himself as a potential president. He’s said it’s okay to suspend the Constitution. I think Donald’s confused. The oath for president says ‘preserve, protect and defend’ not ‘preserve, protect and suspend.”
NYT: Susie Wiles helped Ron DeSantis become governor of Florida, but he turned against her and banished her from his orbit. Donald Trump was all too happy to bring her in from the cold. (Gift link)
Republicans will most likely continue to endorse Trump, not only due to fear of the once kingmaker but also because he is the only winnable candidate in a match-up for the GOP primary nomination as they closely observe polling on controversial issues. Even the former president is keeping a keen eye on polling, saying a "federal abortion ban" is "a losing proposal for Republicans" heading into a presidential election, according to people who work close to him. The GOP only cares about winning, and Ron keeps spooking donors away.
"What the fuck is wrong with RD?" one donor said in a private chat full of prominent GOP donors reviewed by Rolling Stone. Another donor, disgruntled by Ron DeSantis' remarks calling Russia's invasion of Ukraine a territorial dispute, said, "If we wanted a fucking MAGA candidate, we would donate to Donald Trump." Two other donors called the Florida governor a "wimp" for not taking Donald Trump head-on instead of obsessing over his feud with Mickey Mouse. Donors want someone who can win. To them, it's not Trump after he cost the party numerous elections and incited an insurrection.
The embattled Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) is also criticized by both sides for his lack of leadership after Fort Lauderdale's historic flood, triggering a gas shortage crisis in South Florida. Sen. Marco Rubio also subliminally tweeted a video saying not enough was being done to address the gas crisis. At the same time, Ron was at his book tour stop in Ohio. As David Jolly, former Florida GOP congressman, put it: "DeSantis is ping-ponging between every presidential special interest group he's got to court … so flooding in Florida ain't on that list."
The Florida Board of Education voted to adopt a rule banning the instruction and discussion of gender identity and sexual orientations from grades K-12, furthering the current ban for grades K-3, the Parental Rights in Education Act. The new rule says that teachers who violate the ban could have their teaching licenses suspended or revoked.
Republicans worry another barrage of losses is headed their way in the upcoming primary and general elections. Pennsylvania state Senator Doug Mastriano (R), who lost the race for the governorship by 14 points in 2022, plans to run for the U.S. Senate and is causing "panic" among officials. Mastriano attempted to overturn the state's 2020 election results. His extremism worries former president Donald Trump, though he endorsed him in 2022. According to a Trump advisor, he regrets "endorsing him" during last year's midterms.
More from POLITICO: Republicans are alarmed about a Mastriano for Senate bid. Even Trump.
The Supreme Court blocked the 5th Circuit's ruling limiting access to mifepristone while appeals go through the lower courts. For now, abortion medication is legal and remains accessible.
The Texas state Senate passed Senate Bill 1515, requiring all public schools to display the Ten Commandments in every classroom starting next school year. The measure now heads to the House, which is expected to pass in the GOP-controlled legislature. The state Senate also passed SB 1396, allowing charter and public schools to implement rules "requiring every campus to set aside a time for students and employees to read the Bible or other religious texts and to pray."
Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) issued a letter to Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, inviting him "or another Justice" to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee to "address ethical issues" next week. Justice Clarence Thomas received extravagant gifts and trips from Republican billionaire megadonor Harlan Crow for over 20 years without disclosing them, according to a new report published by ProPublica.
President Joe Biden will officially announce his re-election campaign next Tuesday, though the day could change, sources close to the president said. The announcement would fall on the fourth anniversary of his 2020 successful campaign launch.