FLORIDA — Robert Bigelow donated $10 million to Governor Ron DeSantis’ campaign, making him the top individual donor to help reelect the incumbent governor. Bigelow, the founder of Bigelow Aerospace and Budget Suites of America, routinely spends large amounts on candidates and causes that are important to him.
According to the Miami Herald, the large donation was almost half of the $19.2 million Bigelow spent this past year to help other Republican governors get reelected, including Nevada’s Joseph Lombardo and South Dakota’s Kristi Noem.
Bigelow has consistently given to candidates and causes in his home state of Nevada but has recently donated to Republican candidates nationwide. One of Nevada’s top Republicans, Sig Rogich, who coordinated campaigns for both Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush – was Bigelow’s high school classmate.
IN ADELSON’S FOOTSTEPS
Following in the footsteps of Sheldon Adelson, who died in 2021, Bigelow has significantly increased donations to political causes. Adelson, a Las Vegas Casino tycoon, made substantial donations in the past to Republican candidates across the country. Speculation continues to mount that both DeSantis and Noem could be rivals or potential running mates for former President Donald Trump in 2024.
Bigelow recently told the New York Times that he saw Governor DeSantis on the news during his public battle with Disney. Shortly after, when the politically-powerful company opposed the state’s Parental Rights in Education bill (HB 1557), Bigelow knew he wanted to contribute to the governor’s campaign.
SUCCESSFUL COVID APPROACH
Unaware that DeSantis was even up for election this year, Bigelow told the New York Times that he wanted to “early on, contribute to the man and pay him that respect.” He also noted that he was attracted to DeSantis because of his successful approach to the COVID-19 pandemic, lifting restrictions much earlier than other states.
In September, Bigelow told the Associated Press that DeSantis reminded him of former President Ronald Reagan. Reagan also battled over education while governor of California in the 1970s.
Since 2019, DeSantis has received more than $180 million in donations, while competitor Charlie Crist, the Democratic nominee for governor, has raised a total of $21 million.