DeSantis rivals Trump for $20 million in first six weeks

Florida Gov. and 2024 hopeful Ron DeSantis salutes his supporters during a campaign stop at the Derry-Salem Elks Lodge in Salem, New Hampshire June 1, 2023.

Joseph Prezioso | AFP | Getty Images

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ presidential campaign said Thursday he had raised $20 million in the six weeks since the Republican launched his bid for the White House.

Separately, a major pro-DeSantis super PAC, Never Back Down, has amassed $130 million since the group’s inception in March, a well-known source told CNBC. Much of that funding came from a controversial transfer of $82.5 million from a state-level political committee once controlled by DeSantis, according to the group’s financial records.

The DeSantis campaign specifically compared its $20 million in earnings to the $18.3 million it raised in a press release Former President Donald Trump, the Republican front runner, during his first two quarters as a 2024 candidate.

Trump’s campaign team called this comparison misleading. Taken together, Trump’s joint fundraising committee and campaign has earned more than $35 million in the three months from April to June, sources told CNBC on Wednesday.

That number dwarfs DeSantis’ first financial statement. But DeSantis didn’t officially enter the race until May 24, about six weeks ago. Excluding the joint fundraising committee, Trump’s campaign raised approximately $14.5 million in the first quarter of 2023 and $3.8 million in the last month and a half of 2022, for a total of $18.3 million.

“The campaign haul is the largest bid by an incumbent Republican candidate in the first quarter in more than a decade,” the DeSantis campaign boasted in the press release.

His campaign manager, Generra Peck, said in the release, “Joe Biden’s left-wing policies are destroying the country, and Republicans look forward to investing in a winner poised to lead America’s resurgence.”

When asked for comment, Trump’s campaign spokesman Steven Cheung directed CNBC to his tweet in which he disputed the DeSantis campaign’s fundraising calculations.

“Comparing DeSanctimonious’s fundraising numbers is as wrong as his heeled boots,” Cheung wrote. “President Trump raised $28.3 million in his first two quarters as an announced candidate, and $35 million in the last quarter.”

He was referring to the grand total of Trump’s campaign and his joint fundraising committee.

Cheung also predicted that the DeSantis campaign will feature an “extremely high average donation,” suggesting that the governor’s team has exhausted its opportunities with wealthy donors, “has failed to find any traction with the Republican base,” and “politically is dead”.

The average donation to the Trump campaign was $34, officials told CNBC on Wednesday.

Despite DeSantis’ funding gains and his status as a top candidate for the presidency, he lags far behind Trump in initial nationwide surveys of the Republican primary field.

Trump held a double-digit lead over his peers throughout the primary, even after being charged on two separate criminal charges during the campaign.

Trump has garnered the support of Republican lawmakers after being indicted in Manhattan on falsifying business records and after facing state charges over his alleged misappropriation of confidential records.

The Trump campaign also reported a multimillion-dollar increase in donations following both indictments.

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