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DeSantis draws huge cash haul from Trump donors

Though many donors are targeted on November, when the governor is up for reelection, DeSantis’ fundraising indicators that he’s each a viable 2024 candidate who might not want the previous president’s backing and one who is sapping some monetary help from Trump.

“I think Ron’s fundraising really speaks for itself,” mentioned Francis Rooney, a former building firm proprietor, longtime Republican donor and former Florida congressman who was open to impeaching Trump in 2019. “It is possible Trump’s percentage of the Republicans keeps going down and I think it’s possible people will start looking elsewhere.”

DeSantis has already raised greater than $100 million — a file setting tempo for a single election cycle in Florida — and is an awesome favourite to win re-election this yr, a victory that would go away him with a huge battle chest because the 2024 election cycle begins.

DeSantis has lengthy been anticipated to run for president in 2024 however over the previous yr has drastically expanded his nationwide footprint and following amongst conservatives throughout the nation, who had been drawn to his anti-shut down Covid-19 insurance policies and staunch opposition to pandemic-related mandates. He has not too long ago began to run neck-and-neck with Trump and even overwhelmed the previous president in early 2024 straw polls, leaving among the GOP’s greatest donors writing huge checks for DeSantis at a time when that would nonetheless include political threat.

“I know a lot of donors who are kind of in wait-and-see mode,” mentioned Shiree Verdone, who served as Trump’s marketing campaign co-chair in Arizona for each his presidential campaigns. “They really, really like DeSantis, who is very popular, but you don’t want to upset Trump.”

Major Trump donors contributing to DeSantis since his 2018 marketing campaign for governor consists of William Buckley, a retired enterprise capitalist with a house in Lost Tree Village — a rich Palm Beach County enclave that’s residence to among the nation’s largest political donors. Buckley gave $1 million. Major GOP donor Richard Uihlein, an Illinois-based businessman who supported DeSantis in 2018, contributed $700,000 to the governor 4 years in the past. He and his spouse, Elizabeth, have given $1.2 million in 2022.

Since his first marketing campaign for governor, DeSantis’ committee has additionally acquired $500,000 from Home Depot founder Bernie Marcus — double what he gave DeSantis in 2018 — and $100,000 every from Steven Witkoff, actual property investor, and Willis Johnson, a Tennessee billionaire who based a car public sale and salvage firm. Neither had beforehand given considerably to any Florida candidate.

Las Vegas Casino mogul and Trump good friend Phil Ruffin has additionally given DeSantis $100,000 this cycle, double what he gave the governor 4 years in the past.

Johnson is supporting DeSantis financially, however has additionally signaled his help for different potential 2024 Republican candidates, together with South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem. He funded Noem’s efforts to ship 50 South Dakota National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border, one thing a number of Republican governors, together with DeSantis, did final yr to try to highlight the Biden administration’s border insurance policies.

John North, chief monetary officer of Copart, the corporate Johnson based, mentioned Johnson “isn’t interested” in discussing his help for Trump or political contributions.

Trump’s group, as they’ve previously, dismissed any suggestion that their key donors giving closely to DeSantis signifies they might not help any future Trump White House run.

“Like other candidates who have been propelled to victory thanks to the endorsement of President Trump, Governor DeSantis is among a large group of elected officials from across the country who continue to benefit from President Trump’s MAGA movement,” mentioned Trump spokesperson Taylor Budowich.

Trump’s endorsement of DeSantis 4 years in the past by way of a Tweet helped make him Florida governor in 2018.

DeSantis’ marketing campaign didn’t return a request searching for remark.

Texas oil baron Kelcy Warren, who spent $10 million backing Trump in 2020, has additionally given DeSantis $50,000, his first contribution to the governor. Another $35,000 has come from Larry Garatoni, an Indiana businessman who gave $500,000 to help Trump and has not beforehand given to DeSantis, and Geoffrey Palmer, a Los Angeles developer, has given DeSantis $20,000 this cycle. He spent $6 million in 2020 to assist Trump’s re-election.

Jeff Yass, a Pennsylvania billionaire, has additionally given DeSantis $100,000 this cycle in comparison with $3,000 in 2018. Yass just isn’t a Trump donor, however has given hundreds of thousands to Republican causes in current election cycles, together with greater than $20 million in 2020 to Club for Growth, a conservative group whose vp of presidency affairs is Scott Parkinson, who was DeSantis’ chief of workers when he was in Congress.

“Mainly occupied with Celtics-Warriors,” Yass mentioned by way of electronic mail, referring to the NBA finals, when POLITICO requested about his help for DeSantis.

The Florida governor can also be drawing huge political help from mega GOP donors who mentioned they might not help Trump sooner or later, most notably Ken Griffin, the billionaire founding father of Chicago-based Citadel LLC. He has been one in all DeSantis’ greatest benefactors, giving $5 million in each the 2018 and 2022 election cycles. He didn’t contribute to Trump in 2020, and has publicly mentioned he is not going to help him shifting ahead.

Likewise, Rooney — who was President George W. Bush’s ambassador to the Holy See and determined to not run for re-election to congress after publicly saying he was open to supporting Trump’s first impeachment — additionally advised Trump is dealing with headwinds.

“The guy is so mercurial,” Rooney mentioned of Trump. “And there are so many things floating around from lawsuits to the January 6 stuff. If the primary were today, Trump gets it, but I think his popularity is going down.”

There are mega-Republican donors who’re taking a liking to DeSantis as he rises by the nationwide Republican ranks however warn it’s very early within the 2024 election cycle and candidates who peaked too early sputtered out earlier than actually taking off.

“In regard to Gov. DeSantis, I have met him and have followed his career,” mentioned Art Pope, a North Carolina businessman who has lengthy been a huge Republican donor however has not given to Trump. “He has excellent qualifications to be president, including serving in the U.S. military, Congress and being a governor. His handling of Florida during the pandemic was very strong.”

Pope, who additionally chairs the influential Bradley Foundation, which helps fund right-leaning nonprofits throughout the nation, mentioned DeSantis has momentum however Republicans have a protracted line of potential 2024 nominees who’re nonetheless very a lot within the combine.

“I think very highly of Mike Pence. He was chairman of the Republican Study Committee, was governor of Indiana and, obviously, vice president of the United States,” Pope mentioned. “He was one of the strongest points of the Trump administration.”

“He followed his constitutional duty,” mentioned Pope, referencing Pence’s opposition to overturning the 2020 election.

He additionally talked about potential 2024 candidates like Nikki Haley, the previous South Carolina governor and Trump’s ambassador to the United Nations, and Texas GOP Sen. Ted Cruz.

He famous, as a cautionary story, that at one level in 2008 Rudy Giuliani was seen as a presidential frontrunner.

“There is a history of people who can surge forward, raise a lot of money, do well in some of the early polls, but eventually fade,” he mentioned.

He famous DeSantis has a bonus as a result of being a sitting governor provides him a big platform, however mentioned there’s plenty of Republican cash nonetheless on ice.

“Right now there is a lot of money on the sidelines because we are still in 2022, not 2024,” he mentioned. “I am getting phone calls about the presidential race, but it’s not my main focus right now.”

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