Mr. Trump’s endorsement of Mr. DeSantis, then a congressman and a fixture on Fox News, catapulted him to victory in the 2018 Republican primary. The president, who will travel to Florida for a fund-raiser on Friday, also forcefully backed Mr. DeSantis in the general election in which he scored a narrow victory over Andrew Gillum.
People involved in the fund-raising process said that the money for the convention was mostly coming from national donors, not donors from Florida, and that Mr. DeSantis’s antipathy was having no noticeable impact on fund-raising. The acrimony underscores how in a state where the Republican Party has been in power for so long, the political feuds are no longer with Democrats but with each other.
“Susie was a key player in 2016,” said Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president and his former campaign manager. “We leaned on her to help us win Florida. She remains well-liked and well-respected by the president, who has made clear he wants to ‘get the band back together.’ In addition to that, she was chief of staff, or played a leadership role, for two former mayors of Jacksonville.”
Brian Ballard, the top Republican lobbyist in Florida and one of the party’s major fund-raisers, said Mr. DeSantis had been supportive of the convention. “We have not asked him to take time to make fund-raising calls,” he said. “It wouldn’t be appropriate, with all the health issues, to distract from what he’s working on. Anyone who tries to lay some implications on that is absolutely not aware of the facts.”
The feud between Mr. DeSantis and Ms. Wiles first erupted in September, after a leaked internal memo from the governor’s political committee suggested he could elevate his profile and raise funds for himself by charging lobbyists for access, including $25,000 for a round of golf with him. Mr. DeSantis’s tight inner circle blamed the leak on Ms. Wiles, who led the committee, an accusation people close to Ms. Wiles considered unfounded and unfair.
The governor’s two closest advisers — his wife, Casey DeSantis, and his chief of staff, Shane Strum — had already soured on Ms. Wiles earlier in 2019. Too many operatives for the state’s Republican Party were seen as Wiles loyalists. The DeSantis camp helped push out the party’s executive director and install Peter O’Rourke, Mr. Trump’s former veterans affairs secretary. (Mr. O’Rourke resigned from the party post in March.)
After the leaked memo, Mr. DeSantis, who in his three terms in Congress was known for cycling through political staff members, cut ties with Ms. Wiles and forced her ouster from the Trump campaign, to the alarm of many Florida Republicans who believed she provided proven political chops in the state. Ms. Wiles swooped in to turn around Mr. DeSantis’s 2018 campaign after his previous team made a series of early mistakes. She was also executive director of the governor’s transition.