It’s the kind of fundraising chops that “catapults him into the top tier of potential GOP candidates,” said Scott Reed, a veteran GOP operative and former top strategist for the US Chamber of Commerce.
“He’s been asking for big licks — $5 million and $10 million per fundraiser — and he’s getting them and that’s a warning sign,” Reed said. “DeSantis is the talk of every Republican cocktail party and every organizational meeting. His support spans the money class and the movement conservatives. And that’s a strong combination early in the game.”
The latest fundraising numbers for DeSantis won’t become official until Monday, the state’s deadline to report March totals. However, a CNN review of contributions posted to the website of his political committee, Friends of Ron DeSantis, showed a March haul of $6.1 million. His campaign and political committee, which are separate entities both working toward his reelection, had previously reported raising a combined $96 million this cycle through February.
While the proliferation of political committees and differences in campaign finance laws makes it difficult to compare fundraising numbers across state boundaries, it appears DeSantis is the first candidate in any state to eclipse $100 million entirely on donations. According to data maintained by the campaign finance watchdog OpenSecrets, the two past gubernatorial candidates who amassed $100 million campaigns — former business executive and 2010 GOP nominee for California governor Meg Whitman and Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker, whose family owns Hyatt Hotels — funded their campaigns almost entirely with their own money.DeSantis, though, is not independently wealthy. Prior to becoming governor in 2019, DeSantis served less than three terms in Congress. Before that, he was a lawyer in the Navy. His net worth is $348,000, according to his most recent financial disclosure form.
Instead, DeSantis has broken fundraising records by relying on a mix of sources. He has received significant contributions from the state and national parties and has crisscrossed the country to raise money from wealthy GOP donors. His political committee has collected large checks from influential Florida businesses and small donations from all 50 states.
DeSantis has also tapped into former President Donald Trump’s donor network, including Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus, WeatherTech CEO David MacNeil and shipping magnate Richard Uihlein and his wife, Elizabeth. All have given six-figure sums to DeSantis’ political committee.Because the money was raised for a state race, it is unlikely it can be used to assist DeSantis in a federal campaign, should he run in the future. But former President George W. Bush demonstrated how a relentless fundraising blitz in a state race can boost a prospective presidential bid.
Like DeSantis, Bush in 1998 was a Republican incumbent widely seen as a serious contender for the next presidential race. Bush signaled he would be a formidable candidate …….