Professional-Ron DeSantis Tremendous PAC Says It Raised $30M

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis addresses Iowa voters March 10, 2023 in Des Moines, Iowa. DeSantis, who is widely expected to seek the Republican nomination for president in 2024, is one of several Republican leaders visiting the state this month.

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A Super PAC calling for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to run for president in 2024 has raised $30 million since its inception less than a month ago, an official with the group told CNBC on Monday.

Never Back Down, the federal super-PAC headed by former Trump administration official Ken Cuccinelli, rallied the loot as DeSantis dropped much of the subtlety around his widely anticipated plans to launch a Republican presidential campaign.

The governor, who easily won re-election in November, is expected to make his announcement after the end of the Florida legislative session in May. If he goes into the race, his allies will have a sizeable cash pile to tap into as they try to sell DeSantis as the best GOP alternative to Trump in a potentially broad field.

More than half of the money raised through Never Back Down’s online fundraisers came from outside of Florida, according to the official, who confirmed details first reported by the New York Times earlier Monday.

None of those funds were sent to the super-PAC by any other fundraising organization, said the official, who requested anonymity to discuss the group’s internal numbers.

The windfall comes in contrast to former President Donald Trump, whose presidential campaign and joint fundraising committee raised about $9.5 million in the last six weeks of last year, according to NBC News. Trump was the only major official candidate in the running at the time.

DeSantis is seen as a likely top contender against Trump, who announced his own White House bid last year and has a clear poll lead in the early stages of the primaries. DeSantis has signaled his ambitions as president in a variety of ways, including publishing a political memoir and touring it in several key GOP primary states.

Cuccinelli, the former Virginia attorney general who was a Homeland Security official under Trump, launched Never Back Down on March 9 with a call for “fresh conservative leadership.” The group recently hired Jeff Roe, a sought-after GOP advisor who worked on Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s victory over Democrat Terry McAuliffe.

Trump has bombarded his supposed rival with criticism in recent weeks. A pro-Trump super-PAC has also accused DeSantis of running an illegal “shadow presidential campaign” by acting like a candidate without making an offer.

Much of the former president’s messaging last month was split between attacks on DeSantis and scolding the Manhattan district attorney who indicted him last week in a case centered on a 2016 hush-money payment.

The Trump campaign said it has raised more than $5 million since the former president was impeached, NBC News reported. It’s unclear how much of Never Back Down’s loot was raised after criminal charges against Trump made headlines.

Trump, the first ex-president to be indicted, is expected to travel to New York on Monday and be impeached on Tuesday. He has given no indication that he will pause his presidential campaign.

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