Ron DeSantis set to announce 2024 campaign next week, with kickoff event days later: Sources

The Florida governor's timeline for a White House bid has shifted several times.

May 18, 2023, 5:49 PM

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is expected next week to file paperwork with the Federal Election Commission declaring his candidacy for president in 2024, which would formally enter him in the race for the White House, two sources familiar with the plans told ABC News.

DeSantis, a Republican, is likely to first announce his presidential candidacy online on Wednesday, a day before a donor meeting in Miami, possibly with a video posted to Twitter, the sources said.

Formally entering the race would enable the governor to solicit donations.

But this would not be the official kickoff event -- DeSantis' team is planning for him to hold that in his hometown of Dunedin, outside Tampa, sources said. One of the venues under consideration is a Little League baseball field, in a nod to DeSantis' childhood, according to the sources, but multiple settings are being looked at. (DeSantis was a star baseball player in his youth, and his time playing for the Dunedin Little League team included a trip to the Little League World Series.)

The kickoff event in Dunedin is tentatively planned to take place the week of Memorial Day. But sources cautioned that the details could still change, as previous plans for DeSantis' 2024 rollout have shifted throughout the year.

Among the initial ideas was for DeSantis to tout his wins after the close of the current Florida Legislature session, throughout May and well into June, while holding off on formally announcing a 2024 run as long as possible, sources familiar have told ABC News.

But as speculation grew that he was in fact gearing up to run, and as former President Donald Trump and Trump's political operation unleashed an onslaught of attacks, the governor and his team moved up his timeline -- even scrapping tentative plans to launch an exploratory committee and moving up a formal announcement date to May rather than June, sources said.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during an Iowa GOP reception, May 13, 2023 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

A spokesperson for DeSantis declined to comment for this story. The Wall Street Journal was first to report that DeSantis is expected to file 2024 paperwork next week.

He would enter the Republican primary field as Trump's biggest rival for the nomination. A recent ABC News/Washington Post poll showed DeSantis as Trump's nearest potential opponent among Republicans and GOP-leaning independents.

DeSantis' team has been ramping up its operation in recent weeks, including hiring staffers and establishing an office space in Tallahassee, sources previously told ABC News.

He held a call on Thursday afternoon with donors and supporters where he took on Trump directly.

“You have basically three people at this point that are credible in this whole thing,” he said, according to two people who were on the call.

“[President Joe] Biden, Trump and me. And I think of those three, two have a chance to get elected president: Biden and me, based on all the data in the swing states, which is not great for the former president and probably insurmountable because people aren’t going to change their view of him," he said.

The call was organized by the pro-DeSantis super PAC Never Back Down. The New York Times was first to report the details.

The governor was in Iowa this past weekend courting conservative voters, telling them it was time for the party to move on and find a "positive alternative." Trump, meanwhile, canceled his own rally there, citing the weather.

"If we make the 2024 election a referendum on Joe Biden and his failures, and if we provide a positive alternative for the future of this country, Republicans will win across the board," DeSantis said as he spoke in Sioux Center. "If we do not do that, if we get distracted, if we focus the election on the past or on other side issues, then I think the Democrats are going to beat us again."

The ABC News/Washington Post poll found that while DeSantis was Trump's biggest challenger for voter support, the former president outperformed all his current and potential opponents at this stage of the race.

Among the six best-known candidates, Trump clinched 51% of Republicans and GOP-leaning independents while DeSantis garnered 25%. Still, a majority of those voters said they'd be satisfied with either Trump (75%) or DeSantis (64%) as their presidential nominee.

DeSantis was reelected to a second term as governor in November, besting Democratic opponent Charlie Crist by nearly 20 points.

ABC News' Soo Rin Kim contributed to this report.