New York billionaire John Catsimatidis won’t support Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in his widely expected presidential run, he told the Washington Examiner, citing DeSantis’ poor relationship-building skills—marking the latest Republican mega donor to shy away from DeSantis, while adding to an emerging, unflattering narrative about his personability.
Business Key Facts
Catsimatidis, who supported Trump’s 2020 campaign but has also donated to DeSantis, slammed DeSantis for failing to “return phone calls,” adding that “plenty” of his Florida friends have “the same feelings.”
Catsimatidis is the latest Republican mega donor to back away from DeSantis—Ken Griffin, who publicly lauded DeSantis after his midterm election win, has grown uncertain about endorsing him for the 2024 GOP primary, the New York Times reported Tuesday, citing people close to Griffin.
Catsimatidis’ rebuke of DeSantis comes days after he told Bloomberg he does not plan to endorse a Republican candidate until after the August debates, though he expressed having problems with both DeSantis and former President Donald Trump.
Billionaire and Interactive Brokers founder Thomas Peterffy also recently walked back his previous support for DeSantis, telling the Financial Times earlier this month he opposes DeSantis’ culture wars, including his support for school book bans and a six-week abortion ban.
The GOP’s culture wars have turned another major donor away from the party altogether: Tech billionaire Peter Thiel plans to stay out of the 2024 race after donating $35 million to Republican candidates during the 2022 cycle, Reuters reported Wednesday, citing sources close to Thiel.
Business Crucial Quote
“I would rule out supporting [DeSantis] at this point,” Catsimatidis told the Examiner. “If you’re putting it in the same context of Donald Trump vs. Ron DeSantis, I would pick Donald Trump in a second.”
Business Forbes Valuation
We estimate Catsimatidis is worth $4.1 billion as of Thursday, making him the 707th richest person in the world.
Business Big Number
16%. That’s the percentage of voters who said they would cast their ballots for DeSantis in the 2024 GOP presidential primary, compared to 62% who said they would support Trump, according to a new Emerson College survey—Trump’s widest lead yet over DeSantis since the ex-president announced his candidacy in November.
Business Key Background
Republican lawmakers endorsing Trump have painted an unflattering picture of interactions, or lack thereof, with DeSantis in recent weeks—bringing to the forefront concerns within the party that DeSantis’ sometimes-stiff personality could hurt him on a national stage. Trump-allied Florida GOP Reps. Greg Steube and Anna Paulina Luna both told reporters that Trump reached out to them, but DeSantis did not, when they dealt with personal setbacks recently. And Rep. David Trott (R-Mich.) went as far as calling DeSantis an “a**hole” to Politico in telling the outlet DeSantis never introduced himself when they sat next to each other on the House Foreign Affairs Committee during DeSantis’ time in Congress.
Disney sued Florida on Wednesday, citing a “targeted campaign of government retaliation” after DeSantis took control of the board overseeing the company’s special district in Orlando as punishment for Disney’s opposition to Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law. The lawsuit comes as Florida lawmakers are growing wary with DeSantis’ culture wars and top-down leadership style, Politico reported, citing one anonymous GOP legislator who said “we’re not the party of cancel culture. We can’t keep doing this tit for tat.”
Business What To Watch For
DeSantis reportedly plans to launch a presidential exploratory committee in May, followed by a formal announcement in mid-June.