An intriguing development in the Republican political arena is underway, with over 100 former officials who served during the Trump administration expressing their intent to support Florida Governor Ron DeSantis in a potential bid for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024.
These officials have formed a group known as “The Eight-Year Alliance,” signifying their desire for a candidate who can offer eight years of consistent leadership and service — equating to two terms in office. Their stance is strategic, hoping to avoid the potential scenario of a former President returning to office only to be labeled a “lame-duck president” immediately.
One insider from the group describes DeSantis as “a proven winner” and a leader who effectively follows through on his promises. While the full list of members is currently unavailable, notable names include Jesse Panuccio, former Acting Associate Attorney General; Will Bushman, former Special Assistant to the Secretary of Defense; Pedro Allende, former Counselor to the Secretary at the Department of Labor; James Uthmeier, former Senior Counsel and Advisor to the Secretary of Commerce; and David Dewhirst, former Principal Deputy General Counsel at the Department of Commerce.
While these officials maintain pride in serving under Trump’s administration and his endeavor to disrupt the status quo, they are now rallying behind DeSantis.
Historically, Republican opposition to Trump is not unheard of. Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign saw the emergence of a “never Trump” faction led by Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah. In 2020, several Republicans previously affiliated with the Trump administration endorsed President Joe Biden.
DeSantis’ focus on the potential impact of a two-term president, particularly regarding the Supreme Court, provides insight into his political perspective. Speaking at the National Religious Broadcasters Convention, he highlighted the significant possibility of appointing replacements for Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito during the next two presidential terms.
The Florida Governor noted the potential pitfalls of replacing conservative-leaning Justices with less conservative counterparts. He also indicated that there could be opportunities to fortify the court’s conservative majority in the event of retirements from the court’s liberal wing, comprised of Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.
However, DeSantis’ potential presidential bid is not without its challenges, as divisions within the GOP could complicate his campaign. Analysts suggest that courting both Trump’s ardent supporters and the broader Republican base simultaneously might prove tricky. With other potential candidates in the mix, including former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, businessman Vivek Ramaswamy, former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, radio host Larry Elder, and businessman Perry Johnson, DeSantis will have to strategically engage Trump’s base to secure a win.
According to Republican pollster Whit Ayres, the Republican Party consists of about 30-35% diehard Trump supporters, around 10% staunchly against him, and the rest wavering between the two positions. DeSantis’ task will be to connect with these “maybe-Trumpers” looking for an alternative, positioning himself as the right candidate for them.