Ken Griffin, the billionaire hedge fund manager who founded Citadel, said he was undecided as to whom he would support in the Republican primary — a sign that he was no longer backing Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for president.
“I’m still on the sidelines as to who to support in this election cycle,” Griffin, the longtime GOP donor, told CNBC in an interview that will air at 8 p.m. Eastern time on Monday.
Griffin has indicated his preference for Republicans to nominate someone other than 77-year-old former President Donald Trump, who remains the clear front-runner despite mounting legal woes.
A recent Quinnipiac poll found that Trump was ahead of DeSantis among GOP voters by a margin of 62% to 12%.
“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,” Griffin told CNBC, alluding to Trump.
“And we’d have a younger person on the Democratic side in the primary, who would have his message for our country,” the mogul, who has a reported net worth of $35 billion, said.
As things stand now, it appears the country will have to decide next year between Trump and the incumbent, 80-year-old President Joe Biden.
Biden’s age and apparent loss of mental acuity has Democrats ringing alarm bells as polls show voters are concerned about the president’s stamina.
If both parties opted for someone younger, “we’d have a debate around ideas and principles and policies to make this a great nation,” Griffin told CNBC.
“We’re not having that dialogue right now.”
Last year, Griffin, who relocated his hedge fund’s headquarters to Florida from deep-blue Chicago due to the surge in crime and a decrease in the quality of life in the Windy City, endorsed DeSantis, insisting that the Republican governor was “going to run on a record of just unbelievable accomplishment.”
Griffin donated $5 million to DeSantis’ successful re-election bid last year.
He told Politico in November that “our country would be well-served by him as president.”
But the initial enthusiasm among the GOP donor class that greeted the prospect of a DeSantis candidacy has evaporated.
The Florida governor’s ineffectual campaign as well as his ongoing battle with Disney has rankled pro-business Republican donors.
“[As a] first-term governor — [DeSantis did] just a phenomenal job,” said Griffin. “But that hasn’t been how this last few months has played out.”
“The ongoing battle with Disney I think is pointless,” Griffin continued. “In fact, it doesn’t reflect well on the ethos of Florida.”
Disney’s opposition to the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” law which bars sex and gender identity education for elementary school students prompted DeSantis to retaliate by stripping the Mouse House of its semi-autonomous status over its theme parks in and around Orlando.
Disney has filed suit against the Florida governor, accusing him of violating the company’s First Amendment rights.
DeSantis also recently signed into law a sweeping measure which limits services for undocumented migrants and imposes penalties on businesses that employ them — a move that the conservative Wall Street Journal editorial board called “a misfire.”
Griffin later issued a statement to CNBC, saying: “As the presidential campaigns unfold, I am assessing how the policies of each candidate will address the challenges facing our country.”
“I care deeply about individual rights and freedom, economic policies that encourage prosperity and upward mobility, all children having access to a high-quality education, ensuring our communities are safe, and a strong national defense.”
The Post has sought comment from DeSantis.