Prominent Republican financial backers and billionaires, Ken Griffin and Nelson Peltz, are reconsidering their support for Ron DeSantis’s run for US president due to the Florida governor’s increasingly right-wing stances.
Their reassessment stems from DeSantis’s interference-focused policies, sources told the Financial Times. Griffin takes issue with DeSantis’s recent educational restrictions on gender and sexuality topics, and his ongoing dispute with Disney, while Peltz disapproves of DeSantis’s abortion views.
At 44, DeSantis was initially viewed as a strong contender to challenge Donald Trump for the Republican party’s nomination. However, recent shifts in polling data and growing uncertainty surrounding his 2024 White House strategy have raised concerns.
Any withdrawal of support from influential donors like Griffin and Peltz, both Florida-based hedge fund managers, could seriously impact the DeSantis campaign. These two were previously expected to be some of DeSantis’s largest contributors.
Griffin, who previously donated $5 million to DeSantis’s 2022 re-election campaign and praised his achievements as governor, is now reportedly disconcerted by policies undermining individual freedoms and rights.
In response to inquiries, Griffin stated that he’s evaluating how each presidential candidate’s policies might fortify our democracy, emphasizing his deep commitment to individual rights, prosperity-fostering economic policies, quality education, community safety, and robust national defense.
Meanwhile, Peltz, founder of Trian Partners investment firm and Palm Beach resident, is also reassessing his support. An inside source noted that while Peltz generally agrees with most of DeSantis’s policies, the governor’s stringent stance on abortion has caused reconsideration.
Recent data from a Gallup poll reveals that 69% of Americans support the legality of abortion during the first trimester.
This wavering support from previously staunch allies coincides with a critical time for DeSantis, who recently sought financial backing at a Hamptons-based fundraiser. Neither Griffin nor Peltz have engaged with DeSantis or offered monetary support since his May candidacy announcement.
The DeSantis campaign has thus far heavily relied on well-funded donors, with FEC filings revealing that just one-sixth of the $20.1 million raised came from smaller contributors. DeSantis has already spent nearly $8 million in just five weeks of campaigning.
DeSantis’s pronounced shift to the right on issues like LGBTQ+ rights, abortion, and immigration have begun to alienate key supporters. This year, he introduced a six-week abortion ban in Florida, one of the strictest in the country.
Griffin, who recently moved Citadel from Chicago to Miami, disagrees with DeSantis’s battle with Disney over a bill restricting school discussions on gender and sexuality. He believes this conflict sends a negative message about conducting business in Florida.
Peltz, a significant shareholder in Disney, refrained from engaging in a boardroom battle with the company earlier this year.
Thomas Peterffy, billionaire founder of Interactive Brokers and another top Republican donor, also cited DeSantis’s abortion position as a reason to halt campaign funding plans.
DeSantis acknowledged these concerns at a recent evangelical conference, conceding he had lost considerable support due to his positions. However, he defended his actions, asserting he would make the same decisions again.
Andrew Romeo, a DeSantis campaign spokesperson, expressed appreciation for the ongoing support from grassroots and major donors, enabling them to build a robust organization.