Billionaire Robert Bigelow Cuts Off Donations To Ron DeSantis – Rolling Stone

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Robert Bigelow has realized that building inflatable, orbiting motels is only the second-most ridiculous way he’s burning cash. The ultra-wealthy hotel magnate, who has donated more than $20 million to the pro-Ron DeSantis super PAC “Never Back Down” told Reuters on Friday that the presidential candidate needs to make major changes before he’ll give him another cent. 

Bigelow is the largest individual contributor to “Never Back Down,” and his comments to Reuters reflect a pattern of discontent amongst DeSantis donors, who are guarding their wallets as the Florida Governor’s polling slips. In July, the DeSantis campaign fired more than a third of its staff, and is attempting to market a “campaign reset,” to bring the governor back from the brink — but major donors like Bigelow want to see returns before writing another check. 

“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 said, telling Reuters that he was against DeSantis’ signing of a six week abortion ban in Florida. 

“A lot of his donors are still on the fence,” he added, and stated that he didn’t plan to contribute any more to DeSantis until he sees that the governor is “able to generate more on his own.” 

Other donors have expressed similar hesitancy in the face of DeSantis’ flailing campaign. “A top-to-bottom makeover and real accountability may be the only thing that saves Ron DeSantis [in the primary], but even then you still have the governor at the top,” one major Republican donor who’s been supporting DeSantis previously told Rolling Stone. “And it is getting harder and harder by the day to see not just his people as the problem, but him as the problem.” 


Ed Rollins, a longtime Republican strategist who’s withdrawn his support for DeSantis, told Rolling Stone in July that, in his view, the governor is “a very flawed candidate. I know some of the people around him, and some of them are good, talented people. But every time he opens his mouth, he has a tendency to — shall we say — think out-loud, and he clearly doesn’t understand the game. … When you get into these culture wars the way that he has, the vast majority of people don’t understand what they are.” 

The culture war focus of the DeSantis campaign has become a point of contention for his financial backers, who think the candidate is making a mistake by focusing his campaign on esoteric and extremely online social issues.The campaign’s outsized focus on social media engagement caused headaches last month, when a now-fired staffer produced and promoted a video containing Nazi imagery alongside the governor. “If they keep blowing money on fucking memes, I’m out,” one major donor told Rolling Stone in response to news of the staffers dismissal. “[He] better deliver the greatest debate performance in the world [in August] or … I can promise you, a lot of people won’t be giving Ron another nickel,”

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