Republican Ron DeSantis raised $20 million in the six weeks following the official announcement of his run for president, his campaign said Thursday — demonstrating his ability to marshal resources despite an uneven launch in late-May.
The Florida governor is running a distant second behind former president Donald Trump in a race that looked more competitive earlier this year, polls of the Republican primary show. As his allies hope for a turnaround, his campaign cash and a wide network of wealthy donors — along with $130 million amassed by a super PAC — could help him raise his profile and compete in key battlegrounds through the purchase of pricey television ads, direct mail pieces and mobilization efforts.
The DeSantis campaign disclosed the sum to reporters a day after aides to Trump said the former president had raised more than $35 million in the second quarter of 2023 for his official campaign and his separate leadership PAC, Save America, which he has used to pay some of his legal bills.
Trump aides did not detail how much money was raised for each of his entities in the second quarter. Reports on the amounts that both DeSantis and Trump raised and spent between April and June are not yet available from the Federal Election Commission.
DeSantis’s campaign did not say how much cash it had in its campaign account at the end of the second quarter. It also did not disclose the size of the average donation it received.
In the first three months of 2023, Trump raised about $14.5 million for his campaign and another $4.3 million for the post-presidency PAC that he has used to pay advisers and to stage events. The former president has picked up the fundraising pace as he faces growing legal peril and has been indicted twice this year.
Never Back Down, the super PAC playing an unusually expansive role in DeSantis’s bid, has raised $130 million since launching. Much of that is left over from DeSantis’s gubernatorial reelection effort. In May, a Florida political committee that had been holding the extra funds transferred $82.5 million to Never Back Down. One megadonor, Robert Bigelow, this spring took credit for more than $20 million of the total super PAC tally.
Fox News first reported the campaign’s first-quarter fundraising and the latest sum raised by Never Back Down.
Super PACs can accept unlimited donations — unlike campaigns, which are subject to strict contribution caps — but cannot coordinate their spending with the campaign and pay higher rates for TV advertising than candidates.
In a departure from the norms of past presidential races, Never Back Down has taken on much of the DeSantis field operations, handling voter outreach tasks typically helmed by campaigns.
DeSantis has struggled to gain traction after losing ground to Trump in national polling this spring. His campaign manager, Generra Peck, said in a statement Thursday that the fight to get America “back on track” is going to be “long and challenging,” and added, “we have built an operation to share the governor’s message and mobilize the millions of people who support it.”
Michael Scherer contributed to this report.