A group attempting to draft Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to run for president tells InsideSources it has gained 200,000 signatures.
The milestone for the Ready for Ron PAC launched in May comes on the cusp of oral arguments in the federal lawsuit against the Federal Elections Commission.
The Miami-based Ready for Ron organization expanded to Veterans Ready for Ron, led by 2016 Republican National Committee Vets director Bob Carey, and Students Ready for Ron, led by former Young Americans for Liberty field organizer Dylan Dean.
Carey, a Navy veteran, noted the support he found for DeSantis when attending the Army-Navy football game in Philadelphia.
“A place I canvassed was the Army-Navy game in Philadelphia and this very vet-heavy crowd is very interested in Ron DeSantis,” Carey said. “We collected 200 signatures in three hours, me and a couple of other people tailgating. To put that in perspective, when I worked for the RNC, the goal would be to get 500 signatures over two days when you have six to eight people working.”
The oral arguments in the FEC case will be Feb. 22 in the District Court for the District of Columbia. The FEC denied Ready for Ron’s request to share the names of the petition singers with the possible DeSantis campaign.
“Nearly a quarter million people have already publicly engaged with and joined the effort,” Ready for Ron’s counsel Dan Backer, who is handling the case, said in a statement. “Signing the petition is the ultimate act of political free speech and association, and there is simply no basis for the FEC to stand in the way of Americans telling someone they want him to run for office, or that they continue to support him doing so.”
DeSantis — who has led former President Donald Trump in several polls when it’s a one-on-one contest but usually trails Trump in a multi-candidate field — isn’t expected to make a formal announcement about entering the presidential race until the Florida legislative session ends in mid-March.
Samantha Fauncher of Bedford, N.H., sees support for DeSantis in the first-in-the-nation primary state, but it’s not yet certain.
“There are still a lot of voters in New Hampshire that don’t quite have an opinion on Ron DeSantis yet,” Fauncher said. “It’s still early. But a lot of people have an unfavorable view of Trump, and what they know of DeSantis is positive.”
She noted that Republican candidates linked to Trump in the 2022 midterm elections were harmed. She also said New Hampshire voters are favorable to DeSantis issues such as school choice.
“DeSantis can have sway with a lot of the independent voters,” Fauncher said. “Trump is just going to keep getting beat down by the media and more people feel that Ron DeSantis represents them and can win in November.”
Many New Hampshire Republicans love Trump policies but believe DeSantis could be better positioned to deliver on those policies, said Pamela Tucker, a former deputy chair of the New Hampshire GOP.
“Republican voters want someone who can win with positive Republican policies,” Tucker said. “Governor DeSantis can win the primary here. He has the name recognition and people support his policies out of Florida.”
The only declared Republican presidential candidates are Trump and Nikki Haley, a former South Carolina governor and U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.
“Americans are ready for Ron DeSantis,” said Ed Rollins, campaign manager for President Ronald Reagan’s 49-state landslide election in 1984, now the political strategist for Ready for Ron. “If he continues to govern as a bold conservative and enact pro-freedom policies, he will be poised to run for the Republican nomination and become the man to beat Joe Biden in 2024.”