DeSantis-Backed Candidates Lose in Key Races, Raising Questions About 2024 Presidential Run
Written by: Sam Orlando
On Tuesday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis experienced a significant setback as candidates he endorsed in key races lost to their opponents, potentially impacting his possible presidential run in 2024.
DeSantis made a last-minute endorsement in the Republican primary for Kentucky governor, backing Kelly Craft, a former United Nations ambassador under former President Donald J. Trump, and a member of a prominent Republican donor family. Despite DeSantis's endorsement, Craft lost in a landslide to Trump-backed rival Daniel Cameron, the state's attorney general.
"Kelly shares the same vision we do in Florida," DeSantis said in a robocall sent to Republican voters on the eve of the primary. However, with nearly 90 percent of ballots counted, Craft earned only 17 percent of the vote compared to Cameron's 47 percent. During his victory speech, Cameron proclaimed, "the Trump culture of winning is alive and well in Kentucky!"
DeSantis's woes continued in Jacksonville, the largest city in his state, where his endorsed Republican candidate, Daniel Davis, conceded to Democratic opponent Donna Deegan in the mayor's race. Although DeSantis provided little support to Davis beyond his endorsement, the loss is notable as Jacksonville has had Republican mayors for most of the past 30 years.
These recent losses raise questions about DeSantis's influence and political strategy as he intensifies preparations for a potential 2024 presidential run. The Florida governor has held a series of private dinners with top donors in Tallahassee and has directly challenged Trump on issues such as a six-week abortion ban.
The unsuccessful endorsements follow a similar pattern to DeSantis's last-minute backing of Harmeet Dhillon in the race to lead the Republican National Committee in January. His call for "new blood" was quickly rebuffed when incumbent Ronna McDaniel won the race easily the next day.
As DeSantis moves closer to announcing a presidential campaign, the recent electoral defeats of his endorsed candidates may serve as a wake-up call, prompting him to reconsider his approach and gauge the extent of his influence within the Republican Party.