EXCLUSIVE: Fox News has learned that more than 100 Trump administration officials have formed a growing coalition supporting Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who will be the Republican Party’s presidential nominee in 2024.
According to multiple sources within the group, officially known as “The Eight-Year Alliance,” DeSantis is “a proven winner,” a contender with policy depth proven in the what he has done at the state level, and a leader who “does. what he says.”
The group’s main motivation, the sources said, was to promote a candidate they felt could be a viable contender for two terms in the presidency, something they saw in DeSantis. They also want to prevent former President Donald Trump from “immediately becoming a lame duck president” if he wins back in the White House, considering the polarizing effect his persona has on American politics.
The group includes former Acting Associate Attorney General Jesse Panuccio, former Special Assistant to the Secretary of Defense Will Bushman, former Counselor to the Secretary and White House Liaison of the Department of Labor Pedro Allende, former Senior Counsel and Senior Advisor to the Secretary of Commerce James Uthmeier and Principal Deputy General Counsel of the Department of Commerce David Dewhirst.
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Uthmeier, who now serves as DeSantis’ chief of staff in Tallahassee, and Dewhirst are also heavily involved in the coalition-building process.
Fox has not yet been provided with a complete list of the names of those who have signed on as part of the coalition.
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The sources stressed that they did not intend to bash Trump, and that they were “proud” of their service in the Trump administration and its effort to “shake things up” in Washington, DC, but that they were now “bug “heart” behind DeSantis.
DeSantis is expected to officially enter the 2024 presidential race this week after months of build-up and speculation, and will join a crowded field of Republican candidates that includes Trump, former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, Sen. Tim Scott, RS.C., businessman Vivek Ramaswamy, former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, conservative radio host Larry Elder and businessman Perry Johnson.
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Early polls consistently show Trump with a commanding lead over his opponents, and DeSantis a distant second.
Fox News’ Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.