Billionaire Ken Griffin former DeSantis donor sits out of primary.jpgw1440

Billionaire Ken Griffin, former DeSantis donor, sits out of primary for now – The Washington Post

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An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that former Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner contributed to Nikki Haley’s campaign. He said he supported her candidacy for president. This article has been corrected.

Citadel CEO Ken Griffin, who has donated millions to Republican campaigns, told CNBC that he has no immediate plans to donate to any Republican presidential primary candidate — including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, whom he would once support.

The hedge fund boss said in an interview with the station that will air on Monday evening that he doesn’t think any of the candidates behind front-runner Donald Trump are particularly convincing. He added that he would like to see the two major parties nominate younger candidates to “have a debate about ideas, principles and policies.”

“I’m still undecided about who to support in this election cycle,” Griffin told CNBC. “Look, if I were to achieve my dream, we would have a great Republican candidate in the primary who was younger, of a different generation, and had a different tone for America.”

With Griffin on the sidelines, none of the Republican candidates trying to gain ground on Trump can expect to benefit from the deep pockets of a man with a $35 billion fortune. As CNBC reported, the CEO donated $100 million to state and federal campaigns ahead of the 2022 midterm elections.

Griffin’s decision is particularly bad news for DeSantis: Griffin told Politico in November that he would support the Florida governor if he ran for the White House, saying DeSantis had a “tremendous record as governor.” Now, Griffin says he doesn’t understand DeSantis’ strategy for 2024.

“It’s not clear to me what constituency he’s trying to appeal to,” Griffin told CNBC.

DeSantis’ star has fallen in recent months. He is supported by 14 percent of Republican primary and caucus voters, according to a Washington Post average of polls after the first Republican primary debate, compared with 55 percent for Trump. In July, DeSantis averaged 21 percent.

In addition to Griffin, other top sponsors of DeSantis’ 2022 re-election campaign have also defected from him during the presidential campaign. Walter Buckley Jr. has donated to former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie after previously saying he was “right next to” DeSantis. Former Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner praised former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley’s campaign.

DeSantis has faced additional challenges in recent weeks. The Florida branch of the Republican Party voted last week not to require presidential primary candidates to promise to support the eventual nominee. That result means Trump, who has refused to make a similar promise at the national level, can appear on the ballot in DeSantis’ home state without signing an oath at the state level.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (Republican of California) took a swipe at DeSantis, saying he expects Trump to be the Republican nominee because he is stronger now than he was before the 2016 or 2020 elections.

“I served with Ron DeSantis,” McCarthy said said in an interview that aired Sunday on Fox News, referring to DeSantis’ time in the House of Representatives. “He is in no way on the same level as President Trump.”

On Monday, DeSantis said McCarthy was right that he and Trump were different – because Florida ran budget surpluses while McCarthy and Trump added $7 trillion to the national debt.

“It’s understandable that the D.C. establishment doesn’t want me as president — and I wear that as a badge of honor,” DeSantis said wrote on Xthe social media platform formerly known as Twitter.

Trump has also received far more celebrity endorsements than DeSantis. On Monday, Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.) became the 11th senator to publicly support Trump. Several former governors and dozens of House members have also endorsed the former president.

Emily Guskin and Hannah Knowles contributed to this report.