Biggest Ron DeSantis Donor Withholding Any More Donations Unless Campaign Makes Major Changes

DeSantis Education
AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell

Robert Bigelow, the biggest individual donor supporting the presidential campaign of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), told Reuters he would not be donating any more money unless DeSantis makes a more moderate shift and attracts new major donors.

Bigelow is DeSantis’s biggest donor by a longshot. The Bigelow Aerospace founder donated $20 million to the pro-DeSantis Never Back Down PAC in March. The next closest donor is venture capitalist Douglas Leone, who donated $2 million, a tenth of Bigelow’s contribution.

“He does need to shift to get to moderates. He’ll lose if he doesn’t … Extremism isn’t going to get you elected,” Bigelow told Reuters on Friday. Bigelow specifically cited Florida’s six-week abortion restriction as a policy he feels is too extreme.

Bigelow told Reuters he is pausing any donations to DeSantis at the moment, lamenting that his contribution is “too big a percentage.”

FILE - Robert Bigelow, founder and president of Bigelow Aerospace, speaks at a news conference at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., on April 7, 2016. Las Vegas-based hotel magnate and longtime UFO researcher Bigelow has donated, through his owned companies, a total of $5.7 million to Nevada GOP gubernatorial nominee Joe Lombardo's campaign or PACs supporting his campaign this election cycle. (AP Photo/John Raoux, File)

Robert Bigelow, founder and president of Bigelow Aerospace, speaks at a news conference in Florida in 2016. (AP Photo/John Raoux, File)

“Not until I see that he’s able to generate more on his own. I’m already too big a percentage,” Bigelow told Reuters. Bigelow also said, “a lot of his donors are still on the fence.”

Bigelow did not provide an exact fundraising number he was looking for but said, “it’s going to be a lot.”

Bigelow’s concern with DeSantis’s campaign comes as he hits a new low in polling. This week’s Morning Consult survey found that DeSantis has just 15 percent support among Republican primary voters. On the other hand, former President Donald Trump has a 43-point advantage over DeSantis, coming in at 58 percent support.

Bigelow is not the only donor concerned with DeSantis’s performance in the polls and electability. Republican donor Andy Sabin “soured on DeSantis and threw his support behind Senator Tim Scott in part due to the abortion issue,” Reuters reported.

As Breitbart News detailed:

Republican megadonor Ken Griffin is also reconsidering his support for DeSantis after previously claiming, “our country would be well-served by him as president,” months before DeSantis launched his campaign.

Griffin is one of several donors who supported DeSantis’s gubernatorial campaigns but are shying away from contributing to his presidential campaign. Former Marvel chairman Ike Perlmutter — who donated, with his wife, over $2 million to DeSantis’s gubernatorial reelection campaign — is planning to support Trump’s third White House bid with a “meaningful” contribution, CNBC reported.

Billionaire Ronald Lauder, who donated more than $200,000 to DeSantis’s gubernatorial campaigns, is now considering throwing his financial support to Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), Politico reported.

Ron DeSantis gestures as he speaks at the Republican Party Of Iowa’s annual Lincoln Dinner in Des Moines, Iowa, on Friday, July 28, 2023. (Rachel Mummey/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

The DeSantis campaign has been shrouded in controversy recently after Florida’s new education standards that purport to teach students about the “personal benefit” enslaved Americans received under slavery. Further, the campaign made an interview video that featured a Nazi symbol.

The campaign laid off 38 staffers in recent weeks as part of the “aggressive steps” to “streamline operations.”

A confidential campaign memo leaked last month revealed DeSantis’s plans to focus on early primate states like Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina.

DeSantis campaign spokesperson Bryan Griffin told Reuters they were “grateful” to supporters and donors who gave them “the capacity to compete for the long haul,” but did not directly address Bigelow’s comments.

Despite the pause on donations, Bigelow still believes DeSantis is “the best guy for the country.”

Bigelow reportedly addressed his concerns with campaign manager Generra Peck, urging her that DeSantis needs to make a more moderate shift to have a chance.

“There was a long period of silence where I thought maybe she had passed out,” Bigelow said of Peck’s reaction. “But I think she took it all in,” Bigelow added, calling Peck a “very good campaign manager.”

Jordan Dixon-Hamilton is a reporter for Breitbart News. Write to him at or follow him on Twitter.


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