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IL GOP Leaders Join Billionaire Ken Griffin in Supporting Gov. Ron DeSantis’ Presidential Campaign, Including Jeanne Ives and Richard Porter



By Illinois Review

As the presidential campaign season starts to heat up, Illinois Republican Party leaders are beginning to draw lines in the sand, with some expressing their support for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, while others are lining up behind former President Donald Trump, as the country braces for a grueling 2024 election cycle.

In the last three months, DeSantis has made two trips to Illinois – the first being a “law and order” speech in Elmhurst back in February – and during his second visit last month, DeSantis was the keynote speaker at an event co-hosted by the Tazewell and Peoria County Republican organizations, where he spoke about how “woke” policies are destroying our country.

Gov. DeSantis was back in Illinois on May 12th to keynote an event with the Tazewell and Peoria County Republican organizations.

But with political tensions rising between the DeSantis and Trump campaigns – some Illinois Republican Party officials are lining up early behind the popular Florida governor, including Republican national committeeman Richard Porter and former gubernatorial candidate and state central committee member Jeanne Ives.

During a May 25th Facebook post, Porter wrote, “I am down in Miami helping DeSantis with his launch, and I am working the phones and emails to raise first day money for him — could you give today?”

During the 2022 primary, Porter was one of the architects of Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin’s campaign for governor – serving as honorary co-chairman of Irvin’s campaign, where he remained a close advisor and confidante to the Aurora mayor.

Billionaire Ken Griffin, who funded Irvin’s campaign – donated $50 million – but in the end, Irvin would lose the primary to the grassroots-backed candidate by 43 points.

Griffin is also a big supporter of DeSantis, and has given numerous media interviews over the last several months expressing his support for the Florida governor’s presidential campaign. Griffin also stated that it was time for the party to move on from Trump and to focus on the “next generation.”

During Joe Biden’s inauguration in 2020, Griffin donated $500,000 to the president-elect’s inaugural committee.

State central committee member Jeanne Ives is also backing DeSantis – and during an interview in Crain’s Chicago Business on May 30th, Ives said and tweeted, “I’m a DeSantis fan…I like a strong governor with a proven record of accomplishments…Florida has, what, a $21 billion budget surplus…”

Ives also said that she was “not going to let anyone off the hook on COVID,” meaning she was going to hold Trump accountable for some of his actions during the beginning of the pandemic.

Former gubernatorial candidate Darren Bailey, who was also interviewed for the Crain’s article – and who beat Irvin by 43 points during the last primary after receiving Trump’s endorsement, posted a message on his Facebook page on May 25th stating, “I am PROUDLY endorsing President Trump again!”

DeSantis garnered national attention for his response during the pandemic and his commitment to keeping Florida open and free – but during the early days of COVID, DeSantis did shut down the state for a period of time – issuing mandates and encouraging residents to wear facial coverings, social distance and to get vaccinated.

During a speech during the early months of the pandemic, DeSantis laid out his plan for Florida residents to get vaccinated, saying,

“Each vaccine requires the individual to take two doses…as more vaccine becomes available, we of course will want to get that into the broader senior community first, and then the broader community at large.”

And DeSantis continued to promote the safety of the vaccines, saying in another speech that “Today, we have three safe and effective vaccines.”

DeSantis also heaped praise on Dr. Fauci in the early days of COVID, saying,

“They are not getting a lot of sleep and they are really focusing on a big country that we have, and uh, from Dr. Birx, to Dr. Fauci….they are really doing a good job…”

DeSantis also promoted social distancing and the wearing of face masks, telling residents that if they are not in a situation where they can “appropriately social distance, wearing the face covering will help you.”

On May 24th, DeSantis announced that he was running for President on Twitter – but unfortunately, the announcement was plagued by glitches and audio issues, making it difficult for people to hear the Florida governor’s big announcement.

DeSantis was widely mocked and the announcement created an embarrassing moment for DeSantis and his campaign team – a nightmare scenario for any political candidate.

Trump, who’s been critical of Fox News, posted a recent Fox News poll to his TruthSocial account that had the former president beating DeSantis by 33 points among Republican Primary voters – as Trump continues to dominate the national polls and maintains a sizable double-digit lead over the Florida governor.

President Trump maintains a sizable double-digit leader over Gov. DeSantis

Illinois Republican Party Chairman Don Tracy maintained that he’s going to remain neutral during the presidential primary election, but on March 23rd, Tracy and the IL GOP traveled down to Naples, Florida to host a private reception featuring former US Attorney General Bill Baar, who served as AG under the George HW Bush and Donald Trump presidential administrations.

Baar remains critical of Trump, and in November, he published a scathing opinion piece in the New York Post, writing,

“Unless the rest of the party goes along with him, he will burn the whole house down by leading ‘his people’ out of the GOP. Trump’s willingness to destroy the party if he does not get his way is not based on principle, but on his own supreme narcissism. His egoism makes him unable to think of a political party as anything but an extension of himself – a cult of personality.”

IL GOP leaders including Don Tracy and Richard Porter host an event in Naples with former AG Bill Barr, who remains critical of President Trump.

Last November, House Republican leader Jim Durkin – a close ally of Tracy, announced his resignation as leader after overseeing humiliating losses during the general election – and in media interviews, Durkin attempted to place all of the blame on the 45th President of the United States Donald Trump.

“As long as we continue to say that we are the party of Trump and that we have to abide by the party principles in the platform, 100% we’re gonna continue down this path of losing.”

The presidential primary will take place next Spring, and the 2024 Republican National Convention will be held from July 15-18 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.


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    The Donald Trump of 2015-2016 is NOT the same Donald Trump of 2023-2024. Trump was 69 when he came down the escalator in 2015 and this month, he turns 77 and is looking it.

    Governor Ron DeSantis, clearly Trump’s main rival for the Republican presidential nomination, turns 45 later this year.

    Given President Joe Biden’s stumble at the United States Air Force Academy commencement ceremony yesterday, the 81 year-old (after Nov 2023) incumbent and the septagenarian Trump display what is wrong with our nation’s leadership in Washington. The country being run by men and women in their 70s and 80s.

    DeSantis represents a new generation.

    And he’s looking it, the former U.S. Navy Judge Advocate General officer, former congressman and now America’s governor.

    Trump’s campaign spokespersons in recent weeks are 26-year-old political hack Alex Bruesewitz, who was a consultant for failed congressional candidate Catalina Lauf from March 2021 through December of 2022. Other Trump spox includes 26-year-old failed House candidate Karoline Leavitt. Even Laura Loomer (30) is posting in social media for Trump, though she may have no formal role, let alone being paid, by Trump.

    But what happened to the seasoned conservative spokespersons Trump had over the past 8 years?

    Steve Cortes — Team DeSantis
    Bill Mitchell — Team DeSantis
    Chris Nelson — backing DeSantis
    Katrina Pierson — backing DeSantis

    Many more are coming out to back Governor Ron DeSantis daily, including last night’s endorsement on Newsmax by Riley Gaines Barker, the poster-woman fighting biological male transgender athletes competing in women’s sports.

    More proof Trump is not the same man? His vicious attack on the person most agree was Trump’s best staff hire during his presidency — Kayleigh McEnany, whom Trump ripped for not reporting on the many questionable polls putting Trump way ahead of DeSantis, and all the other Republicans who’ve announced or are about to announce for 2024.


    Last month, Trump answered a question he thinks the Florida six-week abortion ban Governor DeSantis signed into law is “too harsh”.

    Trump has consistently dodged if he backs the new Florida abortion law.

    Pro-life voters are watching how Trump will run on abortion. It’s one thing to take credit for nominating U.S. Supreme Court justices who overturned Roe v. Wade. It’s another thing to say where one stands now, and Illinois residents, after DuPage County Republican Board Chairman nominee flip-flopped from pro-life to pro-choice last September, pro-life grassroots conservatives are not going to let Trump rest on the platitudes that Roe is now gone. Trump, as reported in multiple media outlets last month, dodged if he’s in favor of a federal abortion ban.

    It’s gonna be a fun 2024 presidential nomination contest, including in Illinois though realistically, the nomination will be all-but-decided on Super Tuesday March 5, two weeks before the March 19 Illinois Republican primary. But, with early voting and vote-by-mail balloting starting in January, Illinois Republicans will begin to get their say even before the South Carolina Republican primary on January 27.

    2nd Quarter FEC reports will be published by July 15, so we’ll see who’s backing up their support for Trump or DeSantis (or anyone else) in dollars.

  2. John, respectfully, I found this article to be objective and an accurate description of the state of the presidential primary among Illinois Republican leaders. If you find an aspect of this article to be inaccurate or overstated, please alert our staff at [email protected].

    That said, there is no question where my loyalties lie, as I have been very close with the Trump family for more than a decade. You made reference to our April 26, 2023 article about President Trump’s highly-exclusive event featuring former IL Gov. Rod Blagojevich (available here: https://www.illinoisreview.com/illinoisreview/2023/04/an-evening-at-mar-a-lago-exclusive-president-trump-private-book-launch-party-for-letters-to-trump.html), and just a couple weeks before that, I attended President Trump’s prime time address responding to the NYC prosecutor’s case, sitting immediately behind Eric and Donald Trump, Jr. (as shown here: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=631042002369219&set=pb.100063902739668.-2207520000.&type=3). At that same April 4 event, I posted an exclusive video from the Venetian Room of Mar-a-Lago describing the event (available here: https://www.facebook.com/illinois.review/videos/182835110789861). And make no mistake, you can look on the FEC website (here: https://www.fec.gov/data/receipts/individual-contributions/?contributor_name=scott+kaspar) and see there is no question where my loyalties lie.

    But you need to ask yourself, do we really need disclaimers at all? If we were to add a disclaimer that Scott Kaspar is a personal friend of Eric Trump who has flown on Trump’s 757 and his Citation X, do we also need to add a disclaimer that Scott Kaspar and Ken Griffin had ski injuries on the same day at Beaver Creek, Colorado, both were patients of the same surgeon, and both attended physical therapy with the same clinician during Winter 2010, or that Ken Griffin’s closest advisor maxed out to Scott Kaspar’s congressional campaign last year? Do we need to disclose that Ken Griffin and Scott Kaspar both are members of Fourth Presbyterian Church on Michigan Avenue in Chicago? At what point does this all become completely absurd?

    All signs are pointing to the Republican primary being a two-person race between Trump and DeSantis. And regardless of who gets the nomination, all of us will be behind the 2024 presidential nominee. A fulsome primary is healthy for our party, let’s let it play out. And let’s let the People make the nomination.

    • Scott,

      Thank you for the response. I will give more detailed feedback in the email address you cited out of respect to keep the specifics private.

      I am a trust but verify kind of guy, and while the average person may not know what “fulsome” means without Googling it, the coming presidential primary took some very disturbing terms, which I think was the product of the questionable people I cited in my comment.

      What the heck is “MAGADONIA” which was used in a Trump Truth Social tweet late yesterday? My only educated guess is it’s the Trump campaign to get people away from the term “MAGA Republican”, but that kind of phrasing just feeds fodder to people who believe Trump’s best days are behind him as he turns 77 a week from Wednesday.

      But that said, and will close with this, the constant conflict Illinois Review imbues as a “grassroots” vs. “establishment” overlooks the one thing both sides have in common — in electoral politics, both have exhibited the ability to lose elections lately, both last fall and this spring.

      And, as announced on May 18, the Democratic Party of Illinois is fully staffed with permanent hires around the state, the largest payroll for an odd-year, to not only win big in 2024 as expected (especially with the Democrat National Convention in Chicago), but they’re already preparing for 2025 and local races, including school boards.

      We’re into June, and if real grassroots leaders are discussing strategy for 2024 & 2025, all need to be shovel-ready by Labor Day 2023. What I saw from North Aurora last month showed me no one is ready.