Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has ended his bid for the Republican presidential nomination, just before the coveted New Hampshire primary. DeSantis, once a frontrunner close on the heels of former President Donald Trump, has been steadily falling back in the polls since that time.
The decision to bow out is juxtaposed by DeSantis' relatively strong showing in the Iowa Caucus, the first statewide contest in the country. DeSantis placed second in Iowa amid speculation he may fall behind former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley. Both were far behind Trump, who took the state with a 51% majority. Businessman Vivek Ramaswamy exited the race immediately after the caucus, while DeSantis took a few more days to do so.
The signs that DeSantis' campaign may be winding down were visible for weeks leading up to the announcement. Never Back Down, a political action committee named after DeSantis' campaign slogan, canceled some $2.5 million in TV advertising in late December, and later began layoffs following the Iowa Caucus.
The most notable development in DeSantis' announcement was his decision to endorse Trump despite a rocky history between the two. “Trump is superior to the current incumbent, Joe Biden," DeSantis said. "I signed a pledge to support the Republican nominee, and I will honor that pledge. He has my endorsement because we can’t go back to the old Republican guard of yesteryear.”
Once allies, Trump's endorsement of DeSantis in the 2018 Florida gubernatorial race played a part in his primary and general election victory. When speculation arose that DeSantis may challenge Trump in 2024, the two became bitter rivals. Trump has called DeSantis such names as 'Ron DeSanctimonious', 'Pudding Fingers', 'Meatball Ron', and 'DeSaster'. DeSantis has hit back with somewhat less venom, criticizing Trump for deficit increases under his presidency.
Even after all that, DeSantis was quick to throw his support behind Trump over Haley. Trump has also been endorsed by a handful of other withdrawn candidates: Ramaswamy, North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum, South Carolina Senator Tim Scott, and talk show host Larry Elder. Haley has received the endorsements of former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson and Congressman Will Hurd.
Three major candidates now remain in the Republican presidential primary: Trump, Haley, and Texas pastor Ryan Binkley. Though Binkley is polling well behind the other two, he has achieved ballot access in most primary states.
DeSantis now has until 2026 to serve as Florida Governor, when his second term ends and he becomes barred from running again by Florida's term limit law. A hypothetical run for the U.S. Senate, the route taken by Rick Scott after his two terms as governor, would then have to wait until 2028 if DeSantis doesn't plan on resigning to primary Scott this year. Of course, if the 2028 presidential election did not feature an incumbent Republican president, DeSantis may see an opportunity to pursue the White House again.