Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks to Iowa voters on March 10, 2023 in Des Moines, Iowa. DeSantis, who is widely expected to seek the 2024 Republican nomination for president, is one of several Republican leaders visiting the state this month.
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A super PAC urging Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to run for president in 2024 has raised $30 million since its launch less than a month ago, an official with the group told CNBC on Monday.
Never Back Down, the federal super PAC helmed by former Trump administration official Ken Cuccinelli, collected the haul as DeSantis dropped much of the subtlety around his widely expected plans to launch a Republican presidential primary campaign.
The governor, who handily won reelection in November, is expected to make his announcement after the Florida legislative session ends in May. If he enters the race, his allies will have a substantial cash pile to tap 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 fundraising efforts came from outside Florida, according to the official, who confirmed details that were first reported by The New York Times earlier Monday.
None of that money was transferred to the super PAC from another fundraising entity, said the official, who requested anonymity to discuss the group’s internal numbers.
The windfall offers a contrast with former President Donald Trump, whose presidential campaign and joint fundraising committee raised about $9.5 million over the final six weeks of last year, according to NBC News. Trump was the only major official candidate in the race at that time.
DeSantis is considered a likely top contender against Trump, who announced his own White House bid in November and holds a clear polling lead in the early stages of the primary. DeSantis has signaled his presidential ambitions in numerous ways, including by publishing a political memoir and touring it in some 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 consultant who worked on Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s victory over Democrat Terry McAuliffe.
Trump in recent weeks has bombarded his would-be rival with criticism. A pro-Trump super PAC has also accused DeSantis of waging an illegal “shadow presidential campaign” by acting like a candidate without launching a bid.
Much of the former president’s messaging in the last month has been split between attacking DeSantis and railing against the Manhattan district attorney, which last week indicted him in a case centered on a 2016 hush money payment.
The Trump campaign said it raised more than $5 million since the former president was indicted, NBC News reported. It is unclear how much of Never Back Down’s haul was raised after criminal charges against Trump came to dominate the headlines.
Trump, the first ex-president ever to be indicted, is expected to travel to New York on Monday and be arraigned Tuesday. He has given no indication that he will pause his presidential campaign.