Hedge fund executive and Republican megadonor Ken Griffin isn’t impressed with the field of candidates vying for the GOP’s 2024 presidential nomination — and that includes Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Griffin, who less than a year ago suggested that he was ready to back DeSantis should the governor launch a White House bid, told CNBC in an interview that he’s staying on the sidelines of the primary for now, unsure of which candidate is best suited to topple the field’s frontrunner, former President Donald Trump.
“I’m still on the sidelines as to who to support in this election cycle,” Griffin said. “Look, if I had my dream, we’d have a great Republican candidate in the primary who was younger, of a different generation, with a different tone for America. And we’d have a younger person on the Democratic side in the primary, who would have his message for our country.”
At just 45 years old, DeSantis would appear to fit the mold of a younger candidate capable of ushering in generational political change. But in the interview, Griffin raised questions about DeSantis’ campaign strategy, saying that it’s unclear “what voter base he is intending to appeal to.”
Griffin, the CEO of the hedge fund and financial services giant Citadel, also criticized the governor’s ongoing fight with Disney over the company’s opposition to Florida’s Parental Rights in Education Act — dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill by critics — which bans classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in public schools.
DeSantis and his allies moved to strip Disney of its control over a special tax district and replace its board of supervisors.
“The ongoing battle with Disney, I think, is pointless,” said Griffin. “It doesn’t reflect well on the ethos of Florida.”
A spokesperson for DeSantis’ campaign did not respond to the Miami Herald’s request for comment.
Griffin’s comments to CNBC mark a major reversal for one of the Republican Party’s wealthiest donors. Last November, he told Politico that while DeSantis hadn’t yet jumped into the 2024 presidential race, “he has a tremendous record as governor of Florida, and our country would be well-served by him.”
Griffin himself bought a $75 million home on Star Island in Miami Beach in 2021 before moving Citadel to Miami from Chicago last year. Griffin also purchased the sprawling Arsht Estate, a four-acre compound overlooking Biscayne Bay, in Coconut Grove last year for $106.9 million.
He spent over $100 million on the 2022 midterm elections, according to the campaign finance watchdog OpenSecrets. He also gave $5 million in 2021 to DeSantis’ reelection effort.
Since then, he’s taken issue with a few of DeSantis’ positions. The New York Times reported in April that Griffin had privately complained about the governor’s assertion that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was a “territorial dispute.” Griffin also opposed an expansion earlier this year of the “Don’t Say Gay” law.