The Australian billionaire behind the Fox network tried to exert influence in the Republican presidential primary by urging a popular GOP governor to challenge Donald Trump.
Media magnate Rupert Murdoch encouraged Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R-VA) to consider a bid for the White House in the 2024 presidential race, according to a Daily Mail report.
The 92-year-old Australian media tycoon met with Youngkin twice this year. The details of these meetings were shared by sources cited in a report from The Washington Post.
Murdoch worries about former President Trump’s obsession with his 2020 general election loss, which he worries will lead to a 2024 general election loss, the report noted.
A $788 million defamation payout to Dominion Voting System, which the billionaire blames Trump for, also has him searching for Trump alternatives, according to the report.
“Not everyone listens to Rupert, and Rupert’s instincts are not always perfect,” a source familiar with the conversations between Murdoch and Youngkin said.
“But he has always believed that some competition is better than none at all, and he would like to see some debate about the issues in the primary.”
The exact date of their first meeting remains undisclosed but the second meeting occurred in the spring.
Prior to these revelations, there were reports suggesting that Murdoch had expressed to his inner circle a desire to see Youngkin, Virginia’s 74th governor, enter the presidential race.
Youngkin, who previously worked as a private-equity executive at the Carlyle group, has been discreet about his political aspirations. In a statement made in May, he said he was not planning on running “this year.”
Youngkin might announce his intentions for the 2024 presidential race contingent upon a Republican victory in Virginia’s Senate race this November, according to an Axios report.
The report also highlighted that Murdoch isn’t the sole influential figure supporting Youngkin. Billionaires Ronald Lauder and Thomas Peterffy are reportedly among GOP donors keen on backing a Youngkin’s presidential run.
While Youngkin has yet to declare his candidacy for the 2024 presidential race, if at all, Murdoch’s enthusiasm for Florida’s governor seems to have diminished and his papers have recently been critical of Gov. Ron DeSantis.
The New York Post, which once referred to DeSantis as “DeFuture” after his 2022 gubernatorial win, has recently highlighted declining poll numbers and criticism of a campaign video perceived by some as “homophobic.”
The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board criticized DeSantis for a state bill that mandates Florida business owners with 25 or more employees use the U.S. government’s E-Verify system to verify the legal status of new hires.
Poll data indicates a decline in national support for DeSantis among Republican voters.
Data aggregated by FiveThirtyEight reveals that while DeSantis enjoyed a peak support of 40% among Republican voters in early January, this number has dwindled to 15% by August 20.
Dave Rexrode, chairman of Youngkin’s Spirit of Virginia Political Action Committee, refrained from commenting directly on the Murdoch-Youngkin meetings.
“Virginia’s getting attention because parents still matter and Governor Youngkin’s commonsense conservative leadership is working,” Rexrode said in a statement.
“There’s more to do, so the governor’s not taking his eye off Virginia,” he continued. “These races are too important.”