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Republican Billionaire Rules Out Supporting DeSantis: ‘Doesn’t Even Return Phone Calls’

New York billionaire and Trump megadonor John Catsimatidis is ruling out supporting Ron DeSantis for president in the 2024 election, telling the Washington Examiner in an interview that the Republican Florida governor “doesn’t even return [his] phone calls.”

“Why would I support somebody to become president of the United States that doesn’t return phone calls?” asked Catsimatidis, a major radio talk show host who is CEO of the New York City-based supermarkets chain Gristedes and who is estimated by Forbes to be worth over $4 billion. He emphasized that “plenty” of his friends living in Florida that supported DeSantis maintain “the same feelings.”

“Why do people contribute to people?” the billionaire, who gave $15,000 to the DeSantis state campaign in 2018, further asked. “They want to have access and to be able to have a discussion. I have never in 30 years of doing politics asked anybody for anything or a personal favor. Never.”

Catsimatidis notably contributed over $600,000 between May 2019 and September 2020 to Trump Victory, a joint fundraising committee, according to campaign finance disclosures. He also steered $165,000 to the committee from May 2016 to September 2017, disclosures show. Catsimatidis, 74, told the Washington Examiner in mid-April that he would support any Republican candidate in order to help get Biden out of office “unless the Republican candidate is somebody really bad.”

The DeSantis campaign declined the Washington Examiner’s request for comment, pointing to the fact that Catsimatidis donated $20,000 between 2021 and 2022 to the campaign for Charlie Crist, who unsuccessfully ran as a Democratic gubernatorial candidate against DeSantis last election cycle.

Catsimatidis’s fiery comments about DeSantis come as top donors to Trump during the 2016 and 2020 election cycles mull which candidate they will bankroll in the next presidential election, with some Republican moguls seeking to will DeSantis to the White House. The governor has not yet announced a bid, though multiple super PACs, including one called Never Back Down, are raising tens of millions of dollars and spending money on ads to boost DeSantis.

The comments from Catsimatidis also come on the heels of Rep. Greg Steube (R-FL), who was hospitalized in January after a tree-trimming incident, claiming that DeSantis never reached out to him during his five years in Congress. “To this day, I have not heard from Gov. DeSantis,” Steube said last week.

The Washington Examiner also asked Catsimatidis whether Trump and other Republicans, besides DeSantis, are responsive to him when he reaches out.

“Everybody answers my phone calls. I’ve never had a situation like [this],” he said, adding that DeSantis “does a good job” as governor but that Catsimatidis is not inclined to give more donations to “somebody that doesn’t return phone calls.”

“I would rule out supporting him at this point,” Catsimatidis said. “If you’re putting it in the same context of Donald Trump vs. Ron DeSantis, I would pick Donald Trump in a second.”

Trump has a sizable lead in the polls over other Republicans, clocking in at 51.3%, while DeSantis sits at 23.6%, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley at 4.1%, former Arkansas GOP Gov. Asa Hutchinson at 0.8%, and entrepreneur and author Vivek Ramaswamy at 1.5%, according to a RealClearPolitics average. Former Vice President Mike Pence, who hasn’t announced, sits at 4.5%, while Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), who recently announced a presidential exploratory committee, is at 1.5%, according to RealClearPolitics.

In a statement to the Washington Examiner for an article published Wednesday, Trump campaign spokesman Steven Cheung touted how the former president “is the only one who can win in 2024.”

However, Erin Perrine, a former spokeswoman for Trump’s 2020 campaign and now working for Never Back Down, countered that Trump “used to be a force in the Republican Party, and now he’s a fundraising whisper.” Trump’s campaign pulled in more than $14.4 million in mostly small-dollar contributions from January to March, campaign finance disclosures show.

“But he’s going to be on my radio show at 5 o’clock today,” Catsimatidis did say. “So you better listen in.”

  • John says:

    Finally a smart Rich Republican conservative making sense

  • Mjrtoo says:

    Elitist cry babies all of them.

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