Ron DeSantis, the Florida Republican governor, and former U.S. Congressman, is finding his presidential campaign in disarray with reports of sky-high spending, deserting donors, plummeting polls, and a musical chairs of staffers and leaders. This turmoil, however, is not just a blip on his political radar but rather a consistent narrative throughout his career, signaling deeper issues.
His professional journey is not marked by a stable cohort of loyal advisers or dependable staff. Instead, during his five-year stint in Congress, DeSantis’ office earned a reputation for high staff turnover. In fact, not a single senior member of his 2018 gubernatorial campaign team is assisting his 2024 presidential run.
When DeSantis transitioned from his D.C. office to the Florida governor’s mansion, his disregard for maintaining a stable team persisted. Regular firings in his first term as governor prompted some former staffers to form an emotional support group, a telling detail reported by Politico in 2021.
This lack of continuity has left DeSantis without a robust political machine needed for a national campaign. Disgruntled former staffers portray him as a boss who considers employees as expendable, with strategic decisions primarily made by him and his wife, Casey DeSantis, a former local TV journalist.
For those who have experienced the brunt of DeSantis’ leadership, their stories suggest a leader detached from his staff. According to data compiled by Legistorm, DeSantis’ office ranked high in staff turnover during three of his five full years in Congress. Now in his governorship, only two staffers from his initial junior congress member team remain.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that DeSantis frequently shifts blame onto his staff for his own gaffes. Notable incidents include when DeSantis scapegoated his campaign staff for not managing the backlash following a racially insensitive comment he made on Fox News in 2018.
His disregard for employee welfare also came to light with a report that DeSantis had instructed the Florida Republican Party leader to fire a party official battling cancer.
Evidence of his lackluster social skills came to the fore when staff reportedly had to lure him into meetings with the prospect of cupcakes. On his rare visits to the campaign headquarters, DeSantis was oblivious to the size of his own team.
According to a former staffer, “Loyalty and trust, that is not a currency he deals in.” This sentiment underscores the prevalent perception of DeSantis: a leader who views his team as disposable. As he continues his bid for the Republican nomination, these revelations about his leadership style could seriously jeopardize his political aspirations.