Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis will officially enter the 2024 US presidential race next week, according to two sources familiar with the decision, immediately becoming Donald Trump's biggest rival for the Republican nomination and shaking up a contest that largely has been one-sided.
DeSantis will likely file paperwork declaring his candidacy on May 25 to coincide with a donor meeting in Miami, with a more formal launch the week of May 29, according to a source.
The invitation for the May 25 event stated that donors would be put to “work,” an apparent allusion to raising money for DeSantis, according to a source familiar with the event. Representatives for DeSantis did not immediately return a request for comment. Former US President Trump has in recent weeks stepped up his political attacks on the Florida governor and maintains a commanding lead in the 2024 Republican primary, according to a recent Reuters/Ipsos poll.
Donors wanted Desantis to announce sooner
DeSantis’ insistence on staying out of the race until the Florida legislature completed its spring session earlier this month rattled some high-profile Republican donors who had wanted him to jump in sooner rather than later to rebut Trump.
Those attacks have taken a toll on DeSantis’ standing in national polls. But DeSantis and his advisers hoped to use the legislature’s session as a springboard to a campaign announcement and have stayed true to their timetable.
Republican lawmakers gave DeSantis a bevy of conservative victories in recent months: They expanded the state’s school voucher program, prohibited the use of public money in sustainable investing efforts, scrapped diversity programs at public universities, allowed for the permitless carry of concealed weapons and perhaps most notably, banned almost all abortions in the state.
DeSantis has had help in readying the ground for his candidacy. A new political action committee supporting him, Never Back Down, which can raise unlimited funds, has been hiring staff in early-voting states and running TV ads championing DeSantis and knocking Trump.
DeSantis, 44, was re-elected as governor just last year, trouncing his Democratic opponent by nearly 20 percentage points.