Donors frustrated at DeSantis’ inability to gain traction, take ‘hard look’ elsewhere for Trump alternative

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Donors in GOP circles are growing increasingly concerned as no candidate has gained significant traction as the alternative to the front-runner, former President Trump, causing some to look at options other than Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

‘There’s a lot of concern, hand-wringing, and significant conversations among the donor class regarding their frustrations as it relates to Gov. DeSantis and his ability to gain traction,’ a veteran Republican strategist with close ties to the GOP donor class told Fox News Digital.

‘As a result, a lot of them are taking a hard look at Nikki Haley. They realize the field needs to consolidate and any opportunity to beat President Trump is going to be predicated on it being a two-person race. There are folks who are seriously considering shifting away from DeSantis and over to Nikki Haley.’

‘There’s definitely a lot of people talking,’ a top dollar donor supporting DeSantis, who asked to remain anonymous to speak more freely, told Fox News. ‘I think there’s a lot of frustration with the DeSantis campaign. We were like this pedigree thoroughbred on the starting and it just didn’t happen.’

Additionally, FOX Business Senior Correspondent Charlie Gasparino posted on X this week that ‘people close’ to the DeSantis campaign told him they are ‘growing increasingly despondent about his chances as he continues to languish in polls.’

‘They say he is stubbornly refusing the drop out and has enough money to stay in race hoping that something existential happens to Donald Trump.’

Gasparino also told Fox News Digital people close to the campaign are saying DeSantis needs to play ‘effective defense’ and that the operation is a ‘mess’ that lacks any ‘technocrats.’

While some donors are growing wary of the way the DeSantis campaign is trending, Fox News Digital spoke to several donors who believe the 2024 bid is right on track.

Dan Eberhart, an oil drilling chief executive officer and a prominent Republican donor and bundler who is supporting DeSantis, told Fox News Digital ‘we’re the only campaign built to go the distance.’ 

‘DeSantis is the only candidate who can beat Trump in Iowa,’ Eberhart said. 

Roy Bailey, a DeSantis fundraiser who previously served as Trump’s national finance co-chairman in 2016 and 2020, touted DeSantis’s fundraising operation in a phone call with Fox News Digital and said he feels ‘great’ about where the campaign is.

‘I think our candidate is hitting on all the notes,’ Bailey said. ‘I think he’s showing the leader that he is. Since the advent of the terrible tragedy and horrific things in Israel he is proven to be the leader that we all know he is. Great judgment.’

DeSantis donor and Point Bridge Capital CEO Hal Lambert told Fox News Digital that some of the Iowa polls are ‘off’ and that Haley will ‘not get’ double digits in the state when the votes are counted.

‘We’re still raising lots of money,’ Lambert said. ‘The narrative is out there I get it. The media in general wants Trump to be the nominee. The Democrat Party wants Trump to be the nominee and Trump wants to be the nominee. You have three pretty powerful groups that want him and so there’s been a lot of attacks on DeSantis.’

The latest presidential power rankings from Fox News show Trump with a commanding lead but with two candidates in the best position to ‘reshape’ the race with a strong showing in Iowa, DeSantis and Haley.

‘Nikki Haley is now second in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina and is the only candidate with upward momentum in polls, fundraising and support,’ Ken Farnaso, spokesperson for Haley’s campaign, told Fox News Digital. ‘It’s time to start calling this a two-person race, between one man and one woman.’

Last month, the DeSantis campaign touted a $15 million July-September fundraising haul that they said at the time ‘shatters expectations’ while also confirming to Fox News the campaign is moving staff from Florida to Iowa, where the Jan. 15 caucuses lead off the GOP presidential nominating calendar.

DeSantis was once solidly in second place in the race for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination, but he has seen his numbers in the surveys erode in recent months as Trump expanded his lead over the Florida governor. 

The latest Real Clear Politics average shows Trump at 48.8% in Iowa followed by DeSantis at 17.3% and Haley at 11.5%.

Overall, a Quinnipiac University poll released on Wednesday shows Trump leading the GOP field with 64% support in the race for the Republican presidential nomination followed by DeSantis at 15% and Haley with 6%.

Speaking to a press gaggle in New Hampshire on Thursday, DeSantis said ‘we feel very good about where we are.’

‘I would not trade positions with anybody,’ DeSantis added.

In a statement to Fox News Digital, the COO of Never Back Down, a DeSantis aligned super Pac, Kristin Davison, said, ‘No one seriously thinks Nikki Haley has a real shot at winning the nomination and ‘the reality is Ron DeSantis is the only candidate who can bring the party together. He can win the forever Trump voters and the Never Trump voters.’

‘He is the only candidate voters see as the future of the party and the only one who can fight, win, and lead to get the country back on track,’ Davidson continued. ‘Donald Trump knows this which is why he’s only attacking DeSantis and propping up Haley.’

Andrew Romeo, communications director for the DeSantis campaign, told Fox News Digital that the DeSantis campaign has ‘out-raised the non-Trump field for the entire campaign.’

Romeo went on to say the DeSantis campaign’s ‘fourth quarter fundraising continues to accelerate, which is why we are beefing up our ad spending and launched our first ad in Iowa today.’

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