Florida Donors Distanced Themselves Ending Ron DeSantis’ Presidential Campaign


Republican donors largely distanced themselves from Ron DeSantis as his presidential campaign faced challenges last summer, prompting his team to seek support from donors with ties to Florida.

CDR Enterprises, a contractor involved in the state’s COVID-19 response, donated $1 million to Fight Right, an aligned super PAC, in the campaign’s final weeks.

Similarly, Herzog Railroad Services, contracted for a rail extension project, contributed $250,000 to Never Back Down, another aligned super PAC.

Records show the DeSantis administration awarded contracts worth $158 million to CDR Enterprises for various services related to the pandemic. (Credits: Spencer Platt)

Casino magnate Jeffrey Soffer also donated $1 million on the day the campaign announced layoffs. DeSantis publicly supported Soffer’s bid to transfer a casino license to his Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami Beach after exiting the presidential race.

Fundraisers described the shift to donors with interests in Florida as a strategic move. They reached out to Florida-based clients, emphasizing DeSantis’s potential as a powerful governor.

Despite entering the presidential race with significant funding, DeSantis struggled to attract major donors in the latter half of the year. However, contributions from Florida-based donors increased during this period.

James Uthmeier, DeSantis’s chief of staff, refuted claims of favoritism, asserting the governor’s principles and supporters’ belief in his leadership.

Despite challenges in fundraising, DeSantis received significant donations from loyal supporters, including those with interests in Florida politics. (Credits: Nick Rohlman)

DeSantis continues to engage donors post-campaign, planning an “Investor Appreciation Retreat” in April at a Seminole Gaming-owned hotel. Seminole Gaming previously supported DeSantis’s reelection campaign and a super PAC.

Craig Mateer, a major supporter appointed to oversight positions, provided transportation services to DeSantis. He also hosted meetings for DeSantis’s aides at his hotel in Tallahassee.

Mateer, a former owner of an airport baggage logistics company, sold his business in 2018. He has since been involved in patent technology related to airport baggage handling.

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