And that’s all without you opening an official campaign committee account.

DeSantis’ financial advantage looms over the Republican field: Most of the contenders have cash balances orders of magnitude lower than his own. He far outstrips lower polling contenders like the pair of South Carolinians, former UN ambassador Nikki Haley and the senator. Tim Scott. Even Trump-backing super PAC MAGA Inc. reported $55 million available by the end of 2022, a hefty sum, but far short of what’s in the bank for DeSantis. The former president has also raised $18 million through his campaign since it launched in November.

Also, DeSantis has the advantage of his platform as governor of Florida. Just this week, he sought to hone his foreign policy skills on a trip to Japan, South Korea, Israel and the UK funded by the state’s economic development arm, which relies on public and private money. The governor’s team said taxpayers didn’t foot the bill.

“If DeSantis comes in, he’s going to have a lot of momentum and I think the class of donors and the [fund]the fundraiser class will be with him,” said supporter Roy Bailey, a Texas fundraiser who helped lead Trump’s previous presidential fundraising efforts, in an interview with POLITICO on Wednesday.

“The people I talk to are either major donors or major fundraisers. For a while now, it’s been very clear to me from my conversations across the country with those people that they expect DeSantis to join the race and I think the money from him will follow,” Bailey added.

Bailey declined to detail why he switched allegiances, simply calling DeSantis «what our country needs right now.»

DeSantis State Reelection Bill, Friends of Ron DeSantis, he has more than $80 million left over since his landslide win last November, including $14 million that came in during the first three months of this year. That money can be transferred to a federal PAC, a move that could draw formal complaints from his opponents.

Never Back Down, a super PAC formed by former Trump White House official Ken Cuccinelli, has reportedly raised $33 million. (A presentation won’t be available until July, but a representative of the group, guaranteed anonymity to share details not yet publicly available, confirmed report of your sum.) And some smaller groups have formed to support a possible DeSantis candidacy. The Florida Republican Party, over which DeSantis has significant influence, wired $3 million to his campaign in February and continues to post impressive fundraising numbers.

Despite his financial advantage, DeSantis has been hampered by Trump in other ways.

The former president and current Republican frontrunner is garnering the endorsement of Florida Republicans and this week received the endorsement of former representative Lee Zeldina New Yorker who had been praising DeSantis for months. Some supporters and donors have started to express concern about your strength after he articulated controversial positions on abortion and the war in Ukraine.

However, a tidal wave of money is already crashing on DeSantis’ shoreline.

Robert Bigelow, a real estate mogul with a keen interest in the afterlifehas donated $10 million to DeSantis’s governor’s account and TIME magazine was recently identified as the largest donor to Never Back Down. Wall Street billionaire Jeff Yass, an early investor in TikTok, contributed $2.6 million to the statewide campaign in February, three months after DeSantis won re-election.

Several other big donors followed that pattern, an indication that they support DeSantis’ ambitions. Joe Ricketts, former CEO of TD Ameritrade, also donated $1 million to the governor’s account in February.

Bigelow, Yass and Ricketts did not respond to requests for comment, nor did a spokesman for DeSantis.

While money matters, well-funded campaigns have collapsed in the past.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush serves as a cautionary tale after entering the 2016 Republican primary with $100 million in super PAC funding but without a single statewide primary victory. Former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg spent $1 billion of his own fortune on a 2020 White House bid, only to drop out three months later after failing to secure any victory beyond Samoa. US.

For DeSantis, changing his political fortunes carries some risk.

Federal law prohibits a transfer from your state account to a presidential campaign, and presidential candidates are generally prohibited from raising money through state accounts.

But moving money to a supporting PAC is unlikely to trigger legal consequences if DeSantis goes through a series of convoluted steps that include relinquishing control of the state account before the transfer occurs, according to two election attorneys.

They said the move raised concerns, but it pointed to precedent from the Florida representative. byron donaldsa Republican who resigned from a state committee that later transferred more than $100,000 to a super PAC to boost his 2020 run for Congress. The Federal Election Commission was deadlocked in adjudicating a complaint against Donalds, effectively sanctioning the move.

“There is no indication that the FEC would take a different approach and apply the law differently simply because we are talking about more money,” said Erin Chlopak, senior director of campaign finance at the Campaign Legal Center, who filed a complaint against the committee. of Donald.

The FEC is also moving so slowly that if DeSantis were to get a complaint, it probably wouldn’t be resolved until after the 2024 election, said Brendan Fischer, a longtime campaign finance attorney and deputy executive director of the nonprofit organization. documented.

Never Back Down has been raising money for a preliminary account that would channel funds to an eventual DeSantis campaign, but contributions to that entity would be capped at $3,300 per donor for the primary. The PAC representative would not say if he has transferred any money to the «Draft DeSantis 2024» effort, and would not disclose the number of people who donated to Never Back Down.

“There is only one Republican who can beat Joe Biden. This is Ron DeSantis,” Erin Perrine, director of communications for Never Back Down, said in a statement. Perrine was referring to surveys that show DeSantis is in a stronger position than Trump to defeat Biden despite trailing Trump in most primary matchups. “America needs bold, conservative leadership that is not afraid to stand up to the awakening left, stand up for families, and never back down from the tough fights our country faces. Ron DeSantis is that leader.»