Between his direct campaign and affiliated political committee, donors large and small have given DeSantis more than $200 million for his re-election bid, the most by any gubernatorial candidate in U.S. history. Most collected.

DeSantis has used an avalanche of cash to bury Democratic challenger Charlie Crist, a former Republican governor with $31 million to raise and well positioned in most competitive gubernatorial races across the country. I will be But against DeSantis, Crist’s $31 million left him unable to adequately compete.

DeSantis has more than $90 million in the bank after spending nearly $100 million this election cycle on his re-election bid through his affiliated committee and campaign. The large sum is fueling speculation that the Florida governor, who cannot run for a third term, will use it for the early stages of a possible 2024 bid for the White House.

“If you look at where the money is coming from, it’s an indication that Gov. DeSantis is viewed by national donors as the de facto front-runner for president,” said Slater Bayliss, a longtime Florida Republican lobbyists who support DeSantis.

DeSantis’ campaign, which also speaks for the affiliated committee, did not return a request for comment.

Beyond the $10 million check from Bigelow, who did not return a request for comment, DeSantis received two $5 million checks from investor Ken Griffin, who recently moved his hedge fund Citadel LLC from Chicago to Miami. The Republican Governors Association also gave $20 million to DeSant, and the Florida governor received $3 million from state taxpayers as part of Florida’s public campaign finance program. Those four alone gave more money to his campaign than Crist raised in the entire election cycle. Crist is also considered one of Florida’s best political fundraisers.

Combined with DeSantis’ politics and governance practices, national donors have begun to turn their attention to DeSantis over former President Donald Trump, who has attracted both large GOP donors and grassroots small-dollar contributors. has given birth to a national interest to give to a Republican governor. , said Bayliss.

“I think people on the left don’t think their candidates are sold out, and on the right we think our deals are down, and they’re more pragmatic.” “Former President Trump’s whole brand on the Republican side was that he doesn’t sell out.”

“Gov. DeSantis has built on that,” he added, “and many Republican donors have taken it more seriously.”

Other governors who have taken large losses in recent election cycles include self-financers such as Meg Whitman, whose $176 million in 2010 California gubernatorial campaign included $144 million of her own money. Illinois Democratic Gov. JB Pritzker almost entirely self-funded his $176 million 2018 campaign and $133 million re-election bid.

Texas Republican Greg Abbott, meanwhile, raised $116 million for his 2022 re-election bid. But Democratic gubernatorial nominee Beto O’Rourke — who has outscored him since the summer — forced Abbott to beat his rival by a wide margin. Now, Abbott has less cash left than O’Rourke for the second reporting period in a row, with his coffers at their lowest level in nearly two decades.

“It has long been said that ‘money is the mother’s milk of politics,'” said David Johnson, a former executive director of the Republican Party of Florida. “The Desantis team has built a national dairy farm-to-table operation in just four years. We’ve seen massively networked donor operations in the past, with some great impact.

“Team DeSantis is all the more remarkable because it’s small, intense and such a big achiever,” he added.

DeSantis-affiliated committees and his campaign have spent more than $100 million since 2018. During that time, DeSantis helped fund more than $65 million in TV ads through his committee and the Republican Party of Florida, a record-breaking number. His campaign and committee continue to fill the airwaves in TV spots until Election Day. Prior to that, former Gov. Rick Scott spent $73 million on TV ads during his 2014 re-election bid.

DeSantis, who has at least one share in all 50 states, is comfortable in public polls, and Republicans have dominated the Election Day voting period. That means he’s likely to win and not have to make a big dent in the roughly $90 million he still has in the bank.

Sam Ramirez, a spokesman for Democrat Charlie Crist, who is challenging the Florida governor, said his campaign has “raised $30 million from hundreds of thousands of grassroots donors.”

“Unlike Ron DeSantis, our campaign has the support of the people, not billionaires and corporate donors,” he said.

The Florida governor has brushed off questions about his potential presidential aspirations, but his actions in recent months have done little to ease the persistent sense that he is planning a 2024 run, Trump said. setting up a potential clash with, who is widely expected to contest the presidential election. White House.

DeSantis has also focused on helping Republicans in other states this election cycle, including recently campaigning for Republican New York gubernatorial candidate Lee Zilden and cutting a TV ad for Utah Republican Sen. Mike Lee. . Throughout the midterms, DeSantis held rallies for candidates in key states such as Arizona, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, and lent his conservative influence to Republicans in tight races, developing an early national political network.

“Florida is a law-and-order state. I’m a law-and-order governor. If Lee Zelden gets into office, New York will be a law-and-order state,” DeSantis told a recent campaign for Zelden in New York. said in the program.

Marisa Martinez contributed to this report.

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