Ron DeSantis’s struggles on the campaign trail have eroded his influence back home in Florida, and even once-close allies are revolting against his control.
DeSantis was crowned early on as the natural successor to Donald Trump: A demagogic culture warrior, but younger and more disciplined—he was a figure who could appeal, in theory, both to MAGA diehards and Trump skeptics. When he launched his campaign, he was fresh off a series of victories at home. The Republican-controlled Florida state legislature had helped him pass multiple draconian measures limiting LGBTQ rights, educational freedom, and abortion access. While candidates backed by Trump struggled in the 2022 midterms, DeSantis romped to victory, winning by nearly 20 points.
“You don’t get the assumption they are measuring drapes anymore,” a Republican consultant in Tallahassee told Politico, speaking anonymously. “They are waiting for him to drop out.”
And even if DeSantis does drop out and return to his gubernatorial duties, he may find his power in the Sunshine State has been dramatically curbed.
Republican state Representative Daniel Perez told his colleagues this week to be careful going forward, warning that the “problem with wielding the power of government like a hammer is that the people start looking like nails.”
Perez has denied that he was indirectly speaking to DeSantis, but another Tallahassee lobbyist said it was a signal to the governor that the legislature would no longer act as a “conveyor belt” for whatever laws he wants.
Meanwhile, the state Republican Party revoked a DeSantis-backed pledge to endorse whoever the Republican presidential nominee is. Front-runner Donald Trump’s supporters have been calling for such a reversal.
At Pasco-Hernando State College, the board of trustees—stacked with DeSantis allies—passed over a DeSantis official for the college president.
Even one of DeSantis’s former biggest donors, billionaire Ken Griffin, has yet to back DeSantis for president. Griffin cited the governor’s weird feud with Disney and said he doesn’t know who DeSantis is trying to win over.
“There’s no love lost between the legislature and DeSantis,” a third Tallahassee lobbyist told Politico. “They are waiting long enough to see the king drained of all his power. It’s a slow-motion coup.”