Florida Republican Says Ron DeSantis Lost a ‘Lot of Support’ in State

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Florida Republican Says Ron DeSantis Lost a ‘Lot of Support’ in State

Florida voters are “frustrated” with Governor Ron DeSantis‘ choice to run for president in 2024, according to Republican Congressman Greg Steube.

Once considered the biggest challenger to ex-President Donald Trump, DeSantis suspended his eight-month presidential bid last month, returning his focus to Florida and giving his endorsement to the former president. But some Florida Republicans appear to be giving the governor the cold shoulder since ending his campaign, and Steube, who represents Florida’s 17th Congressional District, said the feeling is mutual among his constituents.

“I can tell you from people I’ve talked to in my district, they’re frustrated when [DeSantis] decided to take on Trump,” Steube told Newsweek on Capitol Hill Thursday.

“They thought his focus should be on governor,” the congressman added. “I mean, think about this: People were asking him if he was running for [president or] governor before when he was running for reelection.”

GOP Lawmaker Says DeSantis Lost
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis speaks during a news conference on February 5 in Miami Beach, Florida. Florida Republican Representative Greg Steube told Newsweek that voters are “frustrated” with DeSantis for running against former President Donald…

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

DeSantis was reelected to a second term as governor, with Trump’s endorsement, in November 2022 by nearly 19 points, beating out his Democratic challenger and former Florida Governor Charlie Crist. But questions rose before the midterm elections on whether DeSantis was planning on launching a 2024 presidential campaign.

About a week before Election Day, Crist told voters during a debate against DeSantis that the governor “only cares about the White House, he doesn’t give a damn about your house.”

“So obviously, [DeSantis] was putting the pieces together to launch a campaign against the very guy that put him in the post that he’s at,” Steube said. “So, there was a lot of frustration in the Republican base about that.”

Steube told Newsweek that he views DeSantis as “wielding the veto pen to sway members” of Florida’s House and Senate, adding that state lawmakers are trying to “toe the line” with the governor since he ended his presidential campaign.

“But I certainly don’t think he has a lot of [the] support he did before he took on President Trump,” the congressman said.

Newsweek has reached out to DeSantis’ office via email for comment.

Looking Toward November 2028

DeSantis has gained a reputation with conservatives across the country for his war on “woke” policies in Florida. But his presidential campaign failed to garner popularity among voters when compared with Trump, who for most of the Republican primary race led DeSantis by double digits in preliminary polls.

When asked if he believes DeSantis would appear as “damaged goods” if he tried to run for president again in 2028, Steube told Newsweek that it may be too far out to tell.

“It’s my hope…[that] President Trump wins in 2024,” the congressman continued. “Obviously, President Trump’s gonna have a lot of influence on who the nominee will be after him.”

Steube added, however, that he thinks “it’d be very difficult from a donor perspective” for DeSantis to launch another presidential bid. Several major GOP donors dropped DeSantis’ campaign this past fall to instead support former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, who is still in the Republican primary race against Trump.

Some of the strongest criticisms DeSantis’ presidential campaign received were focused on his perceived stiff behavior at events.

Concern was raised before his 2024 announcement that the governor would struggle with presenting the personal charisma that is required to become president. According to a New York Times report, DeSantis had internal conversations with his team about engaging in basic “political courtship” prior to launching his campaign, including making small talk and holding eye contact.

Steube spoke with Newsweek on Thursday about reports that, after suffering serious injuries from falling off a 25-foot ladder in January 2023, the congressman never heard from DeSantis or received a “get well” message from the governor.

“I mean, I even had Democrats call, text,” Steube said. “[House Minority Leader] Hakeem Jeffries sent me a care package to my house after the fall.”

“To this day, [DeSantis] never called in six years,” added the congressman, who was asked if he believed the governor’s “social skills” may pose an issue for him to win the Republican nomination in the future.

“He got elected governor when I got elected to Congress,” Steube continued. “In the six years I’ve been in Congress, he’s never reached out once.”

Uncommon Knowledge

Newsweek is committed to challenging conventional wisdom and finding connections in the search for common ground.

Newsweek is committed to challenging conventional wisdom and finding connections in the search for common ground.

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