In politics, of course, timing is everything—and that axiom, which is particularly pertinent to presidential politics, is already playing out before our eyes. Donald Trump, a former president with a large small-donor base, has already been an official candidate for months in an attempt to re-establish himself as the party’s leader and beat everyone else to the fundraising circuit. Nikki Haley announced her low altitude campaign this week, presumably in an attempt to front-run the likes of Mike Pence and Mike Pompeo, her competition to raise gobs of money, and fast, to sustain their operations. Expect their announcements in the early spring.
The second wave of candidates, likely in May and June, will be governors such as Ron DeSantis, who need to finish out their legislative sessions. Tim Scott may have jumped into the race by then, too, since he has little standing in his way. As my Puck partner Teddy Schleifer has reported, Scott has long been the preferred ’24 darling of Larry Ellison. Meanwhile, Trump will welcome the company. He’s already goading DeSantis to enter the fray, or at least act like a candidate, with his persistent Truth-bombing, perhaps cognizant that DeSantis’s continued resistance to engage could betray weakness.
Once candidates make up their minds, it’s hard to get them to hold back. They just want to get in the race. But unlike the other candidates, who get to pick when they can enter the race, DeSantis, as the perceived frontrunner, is already in it, and pushing his announcement past June will draw more questions about whether he’s really up for the task rather than exude the confidence that he needs.