Billionaire investor and Trump backer Peter Thiel praises Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis as “the best of governors” who offers “a real alternative to California.”

Billionaire investor Peter Thiel (L) praised Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) in a speech at the National Conservative Conference.J. Scott Applewhite/AP Photo and Jeff Swensen/Getty Images

  • Thiel said Republicans need to do more than point to problems in liberal states like California.

  • Of all the GOP governors, DeSantis was the one who got it right, Thiel said.

  • But he added that he is concerned about rising home prices in the Sunshine State.

AVENTURA, Fla. — Billionaire investor Peter Thiel said Sunday he fears Republicans have been too focused on hitting liberal states like California when they should instead be offering a “positive agenda” for the party’s future.

In a speech at the National Conservative Conference, Thiel painted a bleak picture of his home state of California and said at least one governor was going about crafting alternative policies the right way: Florida’s Ron DeSantis.

“DeSantis in Florida is probably the best of the governors in terms of offering a real alternative to California,” Thiel said, speaking before a crowd at the JW Marriott Miami Turnberry Resort.

But Thiel also had an important disclaimer, saying he was concerned about how expensive homes had become in Florida. Thiel said he bought an $18 million home in Miami in 2020 that is now worth about $35 million. A test for the state’s policies, he said, will be whether house prices fall.

“The fact that real estate in Florida or Texas has melted down in the last two or three years is not proof that you’re succeeding and building a better model than California,” he said. “I worry that this is evidence that you are becoming like California.”

Housing prices are among the top issues Democrats are weaponizing against DeSantis as he seeks re-election in November. The state is facing an influx of residents from the COVID-19 pandemic, which has helped drive up costs.

DeSantis has pushed many policies as governor that have drawn the ire of the left, including policies on abortion, voting rights and limiting how race, gender and sexuality can be discussed in schools.

DeSantis also faced his share of feuds with California. Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom has criticized the governor and run ads attacking him in Florida. The controversy has led to speculation that the two could potentially face off in the 2024 presidential race if both decide to seek their respective parties’ nominations.

Thiel co-founded PayPal and was an early investor in Facebook, the company now known as Meta. He was one of the most outspoken supporters of former President Donald Trump and criticized Silicon Valley, moving to Los Angeles in 2018.

On Sunday, Thiel said during his remarks that his “intuition” told him that Republicans’ “nihilistic denial” would not be enough to create an alternative vision for growth.

“The temptation on our part is always going to be that all we have to do is say we’re not California,” he said. “It’s such an ugly picture, the shit of the homeless, the people pooping everywhere, it’s the ridiculous flats full of rats that don’t work anymore, it’s the crazies that have woken up, it’s so much you feel like you’re shooting fish in a barrel. It’s so easy, so ridiculous to denounce it.”

The question Republicans should be asking, he said, was: “How can we concretely deliver a vision for the 21st century that’s better than California?”

Endorsing California “maybe it’s enough to win in the midterms in ’22,” Thiel said, “Maybe it’s enough to win in ’24. But we want to have more of a positive program vision, something like that to be credible.”

Thiel raised concerns about the 2022 cycle, saying Republicans weren’t doing as well as they did during the Tea Party in 2010 or 1994 when then-Majority Whip Newt Gingrich presented the GOP’s Contract for America agenda .

Thiel did not single out specific senators by name, but Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has not offered an agenda for the party ahead of the 2022 midterms, while National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman Rick Scott of Florida has, in the form of “11 -note the plan to save America.’

Several news articles report that there is a rift between the two GOP leaders. But Scott, in a letter to supporters, accused the media of trying to “divide and defeat Republicans.”

Florida Gov. Ron DeSandis, a Republican, broke Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom's record in California.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSandis, a Republican, broke Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom’s record in California.Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

DeSantis has not received a campaign donation from Thiel, records show

As of May 2022, Thiel had an estimated net worth of $7.19 billion and was ranked 297th on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Although Thiel praised DeSantis on Sunday, he has not backed down in his efforts to re-elect the governor, according to a revealing document from his political action committee, Friends of Ron DeSantis, and campaign finance disclosures from the State Division of Elections. The DeSantis campaign declined to comment on campaign donations.

DeSantis has become one of the most famous Republicans in America and has raised more than $140 million for re-election, an extraordinary amount for a governor’s race. The money puts him on track to break a national fundraising record.

GOP Senate candidates and Thiel protégés Blake Masters and JD Vance each received $15 million. Thiel was also one of Trump’s biggest donors when he ran in 2016, and that circle has donated to at least 14 other MAGA-aligned House and Senate candidates. Thiel, who is openly gay, has also donated to politicians who have supported policies against LGBTQ rights.

Asked by Insider at NatCon whether Thiel should donate to DeSantis’ campaign, Masters replied, “Sure.”

In mid-August, DeSantis campaigned with Masters and GOP gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake in Arizona. Masters said he had yet to meet DeSantis at the convention — the governor is not expected to speak until Sunday night.

“I think he’s great,” Masters said when asked about DeSantis’ impact on the Republican Party. But Masters didn’t give an immediate answer on whether he thought DeSantis should run for president in 2024.

“We’ll see what he chooses to do,” said the Master.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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