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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is set to tap a formidable war chest featuring funds donated from prominent Californians to fuel his presidential bid.
DeSantis has more than $80 million in his Florida officeholder account, according to Florida records, giving the Republican governor a sizable advantage in his newly announced campaign for the White House. His campaign is expecting to move most of that money into a DeSantis PAC called Never Back Down, giving him at least $200 million to take on former President Donald Trump in 2024.
Californians donating to DeSantis’ Florida political coffers since 2020 include:
- Silicon Valley investor Carl Berg — $100,000
- TCW Group investor Robert Addison Day — $100,000
- Film financier Ryan Kavanaugh — $45,000
- Beau Boeckman, star of MTV’s “Pimp My Ride” — $40,000
- Investor and Malibu native Alex von Furstenberg — $25,000
- Jamie McCourt, former Dodgers co-owner — $25,000
But how does DeSantis’ fundraising efforts compare to those of his competitors?
As of April, Trump raised $18.8 million through his campaign and fundraising committee. According to OpenSecrets.org, Biden kicked off his 2024 campaign in April with just over $2.2 million cash on hand. However, his supporters note that he raised more than a billion dollars during his 2020 presidential campaign.
South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, who recently announced his presidential campaign, has built a war chest with $25 million from Oracle billionaire Larry Ellison. But he still trails DeSantis in cash on hand.
With the recent bad blood between Trump and DeSantis, these war chests will provide plenty of ammo for the two candidates to fire political barbs at each other.
“This will be a very fun race to watch,” Rick Taylor, a veteran Democratic political consultant, told TheWrap. “I imagine both candidates will use the tactic of ‘they go low, you go lower.’”
The Republican left standing after the challenging primary will face an incumbent president with a huge war chest of his own, and plenty of financial backers.
Jeffrey Katzenberg, an apex political fundraiser with one of the most high-powered Rolodexes in Hollywood, recently pledged to gather “all the resources” Biden needs to win the 2024 election. He told the Financial Times of London that he’s confident Biden’s reelection bid will draw more than $1 billion.
Some consultants are predicting that the 2024 presidential election could be the most expensive in U.S. history — topping $14.4 billion spent during the 2020 election.
After announcing his reelection bid in April, Biden’s team put together a two-day event in Washington to bring together Wall Street financiers and other well-monied backers.
“The need for money will be profound,” Bruce Heyman, former U.S. ambassador to Canada and former Goldman Sachs banker, told the Financial Times. “Not only do I believe in Joe Biden — I think we’re in a crisis moment with regard to the threat to democracy as we know it.”
According to OpenSecrets.org, DeSantis raised $210.9 million during the 2022 election — the most ever raised by a gubernatorial candidate in U.S. history. Could he use that war chest this time around?
Taylor questioned the ethics of DeSantis transferring the money from one campaign account to another.
“Without asking donor permission to transfer it over, I think it opens up some questions,” Taylor said. “Integrity for one. His donors may have given him money for various reasons. If I’m that contributor, will I ever trust this guy?”