So far, the only Republican candidate to step forward and declare his intention to run for President in 2024 is former president Donald Trump. Everyone else has held off, though there are still a lot of pieces moving around behind the scenes as the party, donors, and staffers prepare for the coming battle.
So far, the biggest unknown is when Florida Governor Ron DeSantis will announce. That seems to be the biggest hangup for a lot of the other hopefuls, according to a morning piece from Axios.
Questions about Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ political resilience — and fears of going toe-to-toe with former President Trump — have all but frozen the 2024 Republican field, delaying most of the leading prospects’ timelines for entering the race.
- “Everyone not named DeSantis is having a hard time figuring out their way around him. So they are waiting for him to screw up or fade,” said Republican strategist Scott Jennings. “So far, he’s doing neither.”
- “No one wants to take slings and arrows from Trump,” said another adviser to a top 2024 contender. “Whether they get in early or late isn’t going to matter if they have a built-in network of donors.”
State of play: DeSantis himself is unlikely to make a final decision about running for president until at least May, after Florida’s legislative session ends.
So right now, the money and the staffing are going to be the biggest issues. Trump’s announcement came very early but his campaign has yet to really do anything of note, likely because he doesn’t have the same team he had in 2016 or 2020. Likewise, his financial situation is also up in the air, and while he is still sitting on all the money he didn’t spend in 2022, big dollar donors don’t seem to be in a rush to support another presidential bid.
However, we have seen reports that donors are looking approvingly at a possible DeSantis bid, and while he hasn’t said anything, it does appear increasingly likely that DeSantis is preparing for a run.
Of the other potential contenders, it appears former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley will be one of the first out of the gate, according to the Axios piece. She is apparently “already staffing up her future presidential operation, with top advisers making plans to move to her home base of South Carolina,” the report states.
Meanwhile, Mike Pence, Mike Pompeo, and Glenn Youngkin are all holding off. Youngkin, like DeSantis, has a critical legislative session on the horizon, and Pompeo is preparing for a nationwide book tour. Pence is not planning to make an announcement, with one adviser telling Axios that “it’s in his interest to wait.”
Frankly, I really don’t see Pence making a run in 2024, especially given how his time as Vice President ended. Is he really willing to walk back into that firestorm? Hard to see, but he may feel he has a duty to try. I realize I’m in the minority, but I still have a lot of respect for Pence and hope nothing but the best for him, but “the best” may include not being active in the politics arena anymore.
It seems like May is probably when we’ll start seeing major moves (with the possible exception of Haley). The combined threat of Trump and DeSantis is a major reason why. Those two are likely to suck all the oxygen out of the room, with Trump slinging mud at everything that moves and DeSantis focusing on issues and policy. The problem for Trump, though, is the same problem we’re seeing elsewhere in the Republican Party: Exhaustion.
People are exhausted with multiple losing cycles, so there is a solid push against Ronna McDaniel for a new RNC chair. People were tired of the same politics as usual in the House, so conservatives extracted major concessions of power from Kevin McCarthy. And people, according to the polling, appear tired of Trump’s antics. They want a new Republican Party.
I don’t know if DeSantis is it. What I do know is that the same thing the GOP did in 2016 isn’t working in 2022 and beyond.