Aerospace and hotel magnate Robert Bigelow gave $20 million to Ron DeSantis' super PAC "Never Back Down" in March. It was the single largest donation the super PAC got. Bigelow's enthusiasm for DeSantis is now on hold. He has said he won't give any more money to DeSantis until more major donors sign up and DeSantis becomes more moderate. Bigelow said: "Extremism isn't going to get you elected." But DeSantis is all-in on extremism. It's what his whole campaign is about. He's not going to change and say: "I like woke after all. Sorry about the confusion." Specifically, Bigelow said that DeSantis' willingness to sign a bill that banned abortion at 6 weeks is a dealbreaker for him.
The second biggest donor to Never Back Down, incidentally, is Douglas Leone, who donated $2 million, 10% of what Bigelow gave.
The problem with Bigelow's announcement is that it feeds into the perception that DeSantis' big donors are jumping ship on him. Since the vast majority of his donations came from big donors, rather than small donors, it could lead to the impression that DeSantis is circling the drain. That's not the image any candidate wants.
"Never back down" isn't only the name of DeSantis' super PAC. It is also a description of the candidate. How did DeSantis react to Bigelow's announcement? A source close to DeSantis said: "Donors don't set policy for the governor and they never will." For other millionaires thinking about giving DeSantis money in return for possible future favors, that sends a message and that message is: "The return on your investment will be 0%."
Bigelow isn't the only big donor who is unhappy with the 6-week abortion ban. Many multimillionaires are libertarians at heart and not religious culture warriors. Another big Republican donor, metals magnate Andy Sabin, also got off the DeSantis bandwagon on account of abortion. DeSantis is going to have a problem threading the needle now. He wants to be to the right of Trump on everything to distinguish himself, but that alienates the people he needs to finance his campaign. (V)