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DeSantis’ governorship timeline coincides with a presidential campaign return: expert

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Despite Gov. Ron DeSantis’ departure from the presidential race ahead of the New Hampshire primary, political experts agree the Florida governor likely isn’t done pursuing high-profile political office.

‘My own personal assessment is that he’s got three years left as governor of the third-largest state in the country, and that’s a pretty, pretty awesome place to be to drive conservative change,’ Justin Sayfie, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s spokesman and a top policy adviser, told Fox News Digital. ‘I expect him to focus on governing and governing with his unique conservative populist style.’

DeSantis announced the end to his campaign Sunday afternoon in a video posted to his X account, while also throwing his support behind former President Donald Trump, the Republican frontrunner in the race to the White House. 

‘If there was anything I could do to produce a favorable outcome — more campaign stops, more interviews — I would do it,’ DeSantis said in the Sunday video announcement. ‘But I can’t ask our supporters to volunteer their time and donate their resources if we don’t have a clear path to victory. Accordingly, I am today suspending my campaign.’

‘It’s clear to me that a majority of Republican primary voters want to give Donald Trump another chance,’ he said. ‘He has my endorsement because we can’t go back to the old Republican guard of yesteryear, a repackaged form of warmed-over corporatism that Nikki Haley represents.’

DeSantis launched his presidential bid in May after his emergence as a celebrated Republican governor during the pandemic, when he reopened schools and businesses while other states shuttered under stay-at-home orders and strict social distancing measures. 

The Florida Republican began his bid for the White House polling strongly against Trump in national and early state polls, but the support soon waned as the 45th president unleashed attack ads against DeSantis. 

‘Trump’s barrage of attacks was the beginning of the end of DeSantis,’ veteran New Hampshire-based Republican strategist Michael Dennehy previously told Fox News Digital, adding DeSantis ‘just didn’t have the charisma to connect with voters in Iowa and New Hampshire.’

DeSantis’ campaign was also mired in campaign finance hiccups and woes. The Florida governor’s campaign was bolstered by support from super PAC Never Back Down, which had promised $200 million for the campaign, but headlines in recent months were dominated by reports of in-fighting between the super PAC’s board and the campaign, with several high-profile super PAC leaders quitting.

‘His presidential campaign did not go as he and his supporters had hoped. There were so many problems — rookie mistakes, a poor start — and he just wasn’t particularly good on his feet,’ GOP pollster Whit Ayres of North Star Opinion Research told Fox News Digital. 

Ayres said DeSantis, 45, could make a run for the Senate in the future but likely only if a seat should open up. 

‘If a Senate seat should open up, which right now doesn’t look like it will happen, you never know. I can’t see him primarying Marco Rubio or Rick Scott. At this point, you kind of need to wait for another opportunity to open up. He’s young,’ he added. 

Sayfie, who noted he doesn’t have direct information from the DeSantis camp, said any hiccups in the campaign were a learning moment for the Florida governor, who would likely employ those lessons in a potential future run for political office. 

‘Every candidate and every campaign finishes the campaign much smarter and much wiser than they did the beginning of the campaign. … The experience that he’s gained by running for president this year will serve him well should you ever decide to run again,’ he said. 

Sayfie said it wouldn’t come as a surprise if DeSantis made another run for the White House, pointing to the GOP’s history of nominating candidates who had previously performed well in presidential campaigns. 

‘The Republican Party has a tradition of nominating candidates who have won previously and have done well in previous presidential campaigns. Mitt Romney didn’t win in 2008, but he became the nominee in 2012. And there are other examples. Bob Dole, running and then finally becoming the nominee in 1996. So, based on that historical precedent, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Gov. DeSantis run for president again,’ he said. 

DeSantis assumed his gubernatorial office in 2019 before winning re-election in 2022. He will serve as the Sunshine State’s governor until 2027, which aligns nicely with the 2028 presidential election, Sayfie said. 

‘If he finishes his term as governor strong, and if he wanted to run for president, that would propel him into a solid run in ‘27 and ’28. The experience of having campaigns in Iowa and New Hampshire and South Carolina, those are three really important states,’ he said.

After Trump won the Iowa caucuses, the 45th president won the New Hampshire primary against former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley Tuesday. Haley said after the New Hampshire results ‘the race is far from over,’ and she is heading back to her home state of South Carolina to gear up for its Feb. 24 primary.

Trump told Fox Digital in an exclusive interview shortly after New Hampshire was called he is ‘very honored by the results’ and said Haley ‘should’ drop out of the race so his campaign can focus on defeating President Biden in the general election. 

Trump said he is ‘looking forward to going against the worst president in the history of our country.’

Fox News Digital’s Brooke Singman and Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.

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