DeSantis’ Biggest Donor Says He’s Now Pro-Trump

In a surprising twist, Republican mega-donor Robert Bigelow, who was once a staunch supporter of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s presidential campaign, has publicly declared himself “pro-Trump.” Bigelow, the founder of Bigelow Aerospace, recently spoke to Reuters, shedding light on his shift in allegiance.

“I’m pro-Trump. Right now, I’m determined to remain on the sidelines for the time being to see how these prosecutions play out,” he stated.

The hotel entrepreneur’s cautious stance stems from the ongoing legal challenges former President Donald Trump faces. While he acknowledged that the cases against Trump are part of a political witch hunt, he is not willing to take the risk of standing by him through his troubles like many of the former president’s supporters have pledged to. 

“I have to be sure that he does not have a position where the prosecution has a path to send him to jail. He’s got to stay out of jail. You can’t run the United States from jail,” he stated.

Bigelow did leave the door open for potential financial support if Trump were to face conviction but receive only a probationary sentence. 

Reuters noted that this shift in support may not significantly impact Trump’s campaign, as he already enjoys a substantial lead over other GOP presidential nominee-hopefuls and is backed by a strong web of small-dollar donors.

This change in allegiance from Bigelow comes after he had been a consistent supporter of DeSantis for most of the year, donating a whopping $20 million to the pro-DeSantis PAC “Never Back Down” in March. However, signs of this shift had been visible in August when Bigelow hinted that he would withhold further donations unless DeSantis made significant changes in his campaign to broaden his appeal as the hype around him rapidly went down.

Bigelow’s decision is not isolated, as other prominent Republican megadonors are also reconsidering their support for DeSantis. Ken Griffin, who previously praised DeSantis as a potential president, is now reevaluating his stance. Similarly, former Marvel chairman Ike Perlmutter and billionaire Ronald Lauder, both of whom were generous donors to DeSantis’ gubernatorial campaigns, are reportedly exploring alternative options, with Perlmutter rooting for Trump and Lauder tilting towards Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC).

The DeSantis campaign had previously tried to allay donor concerns by focusing on early primary and caucus states rather than Super Tuesday states. However, this strategy appears to be failing, as DeSantis continues to trail behind Trump and, in some instances, former UN ambassador and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley in early states.

As the 2024 presidential race unfolds, it remains to be seen if there will be a further shift in dynamics among Republican megadonors.