February 1, 2023

The Texas Voter Engagement Project Donor Appreciation Conference is slated for next month, and while some GOP 2024 presidential hopefuls are said to be there, the governor of Florida apparently isn’t one of them.

For journalists Markus Halperin — who detailed this “significant Texas hoedown” in a Jan. 25 email that Gov. Gregory AbbottUS Sen. John Cornynand strategist Karl Rowe – the absence of Ron DeSantis means this could be a showdown of significant ones for seemingly more marginal 2024 opportunities that will be present.

Chris Christie, Nikki Haley, Brian Kemp, Mike Pence, Tim Scott and Chris SunuNames that didn’t top any 2024 polls are nonetheless expected to make waves in sessions that are (per Rove) “off-the-record without press, so you’ll hear some of our party’s most interesting leaders express their candor.” offer views.”

Theoretically, DeSantis or someone else of comparable caliber could end up manifesting at the end, as “two more special guests” are being billed. But the Halperin email frames the event as an opportunity for Lone Star State donors to bring down an alternative to DeSantis and the other man who at times leads the polls: the former president donald trump.

“Many in this group are attracted to Ron DeSantis; they can read the polls and know that the Sunshine State’s frontrunner is theoretically the best hope of stopping Trump. At the same time, they know that DeSantis is not a sure thing to run and win,” Halperin wrote, citing a just-released one Emerson College Poll of a potential 2024 GOP primary showing DeSantis only got 29% in a crowded field where Trump received 55% support.

“So the ‘Stop Trump’ people need a backup plan, especially for those who aren’t being sold on DeSantis — both his ability to beat Trump and his personality,” Halperin added.

“The inclusion of Brian Kemp and Tim Scott will be of particular interest to some in the room (and I suspect some reading this…) as they both capture the imagination of more than a few as potential candidates – especially these ones who wrote off the Trump/DeSantis killing and fundraising capacities of Christie, Haley, Pence and Sununu.”

Although the Emerson College poll shows Trump will lose the race, a CWS research Poll of Texas Republicans from last fall suggests DeSantis could be the preferred candidate in the Lone Star State.

In a field that includes Trump and a host of other candidates, DeSantis has a double-digit lead, with 43% support enough for an 11-point lead over Trump. Aside from DeSantis and Trump, no other contender came in above 5%.

After Trump was ruled out, DeSantis further tightened his grip, earning 68% support. Former Vice President Pence came in a weak second place with 8% support. Former Ambassador Haley came third with 5%.

This Texas poll shows gains for DeSantis and attrition for Trump compared to where they were in early 2022. As recently as July, Trump held a 19-point lead over DeSantis with the same pollster. The results point to a 30-point shift towards the Florida governor in recent months in Texas.

Maybe DeSantis is far enough ahead in Texas that he doesn’t need that event, but reasonable expectations are that at least one hopeful will make him pay for it. At least a few potential candidates have been somewhat critical of the governor lately.

Former New Jersey Gov. Christie suggested that DeSantis was unable to connect with other governors.

“As far as I can tell, I don’t think Ron hangs out with anyone,” Christie claimed on last year’s reckless podcast.

“You know, like when I’m at the RGA meetings and Ron is pretty much to himself and his entourage,” Christie said. “I don’t see him hanging out with the other governors.”

So has Sununu, the current governor of New Hampshire criticized DeSantis at job interviews.

In conversation with FoxNews airing earlier this month, Sununu agreed with DeSantis that there is a “need to roll back the wake-up policy.” ongoing worry by DeSantis, but that such a pushback should not come at the expense of private companies.

He said that “taking care of private business is a whole different story. … Coming from the ‘Live Free or Die’ state, and private companies can and should act like private companies without fear of being penalized by people who might disagree with them.”

Sununu slammed DeSantis before Christmas another political decisionmeanwhile, DeSantis has been censured for his desire to create a state that conforms to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“He’s starting his own group to essentially be a critique of the federal group, as I understand it,” Sununu said Hugh Hewitt.

“I don’t need a committee or organization to state the obvious to myself and the American people. But I don’t know, maybe there’s another function they serve down in Florida. But I’m just telling you, regarding the criticism of this group, I think I get it. I think the American people get it. It was a disaster.”

Sununu previously criticized Florida for raising taxes when his state cut them.

“And again, we doubled that again with the tax cuts,” Sununu said in May The Howie Carr Show. as previously reported by POLITICO Florida Playbook. “And Florida is great, Florida has been very flexible. He signed another $1 billion in tax increases. I love Ron, but the fact of the matter is their taxes are going up and ours are going down. So I think we’re going in the right direction.”

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