Presidential candidate and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis waves to a crowd at an election event in Gilbert, South Carolina, June 2, 2023.
Sean Rayford | Getty Images
A growing group of donors support the presidential run of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, even after he has raised $20 million since he ran for president in May. Are concerned.
Despite entering the race on a wave of hefty funding and hype, DeSantis quite late Polls show Donald Trump as the leading candidate. The Murdoch family, reportedly led by conservative Fox and News tycoon Rupert Murdoch, DeSantis’ predicament. And as concerns about DeSantis rose across the board, several donors expressed their concerns to fundraisers, according to a person familiar with the matter.
Some donors are concerned that polls show DeSantis will have to climb a perhaps insurmountable hill to overtake Trump, the people said. They are also concerned that Mr. Trump has a large lead over Mr. DeSantis on Republican congressional endorsements. DeSantis represented Florida in the House of Representatives before being elected governor.
Many people have refused to be identified in this article in order to speak freely about their private conversations.
A spokesperson for the billionaire Citadel CEO said referring to the Republican nominee lineup, one of the mega-donors, Ken Griffin, “continues to evaluate this area.” rice field. Former Vice President Mike Pence, former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, and South Carolina Senator Tim Scott are also on the list.
“Nothing has changed” in Mr. Griffin’s election stance, said spokesman Zia Ahmed, who also denied that Citadel was concerned about Mr. DeSantis’ position in the polls.
A few days after the article’s publication, Ahmed provided CNBC with Griffin’s statement, which did not specifically mention the current presidential candidate, but who the Citadel CEO was. Gave insight as to what they are seeking to support.
“My political participation is driven by values and policies, not by poll numbers or persona. We will continue to support those in need,” Griffin said in a statement provided to CNBC on Saturday. . “I am committed to ensuring that every child has access to a quality education, that America remains competitive, that individual liberties are protected, that our communities are safe and secure, and that our finances are sound. I am deeply concerned about securing and maintaining America’s leadership role on the world stage.I am fully committed to America’s greatest democracy in the world. ”
Griffin told Politico in November: Preparation I would support DeSantis if he ran for president. “He’s had a great track record as Governor of Florida, and our country will do well for him as President,” Griffin said at the time.Semaphore reported April Griffin was sticking with DeSantis, The New York Times reported as well Month The billionaire is still evaluating the Republican primary, and a spokesperson for Mr. Griffin declined to say what Mr. Griffin thinks about the presidential race, the people said.
Griffin will contribute more than $100 million to Republicans running primarily in state and federal elections in the 2022 midterm elections, including $5 million to DeSantis’ success in re-election in Florida. It also included dollars.
It is unclear whether Griffin contributed to pro-DeSantis groups such as Never Back Down, the super PAC that helped DeSantis run. When asked about the top individual donors to PAC, the group’s fundraiser did not mention Griffin.
Instead, former Philadelphia Eagles owner Norman Braman and VillageMD co-founder and executive Clive Fields were named. Businessman Robert Bigelow said. time In April, he donated over $20 million to Never Back Down.
The Super PAC has raised $130 million since the commission was launched in March. But more than half of that total came from $82.5 million in remittances from state-level political commissions once controlled by DeSantis.
Braman, who has an estimated net worth of $3 billion, helped Republican Florida Senator Marco Rubio run for president, donated $75,000 to the (now defunct) DeSantis State Commission, and contributed $75,000 to DeSantis State Commission. The commission said it transferred the money to the Never Back Down PAC. For campaign finance records. Braman’s company, Braman Motors, also donated $100,000 to state-based DeSantis PAC, according to records.
Brahman did not respond to repeated requests for comment. Fields did not respond to a request for comment. A Griffin spokeswoman declined to say whether Citadel contributed to the PAC.
DeSantis campaign spokesman Andrew Romeo did not deny any element of the story.
“We could put a premature political obituary written about Ron DeSantis on the wallpaper of the governor’s mansion. It’s going to be a long, hard fight to beat Joe Biden,” Romeo said. “We are building an organization that will follow through. Ron DeSantis is striving for victory, and as voters across the country continue to learn about his forward-thinking plans to reverse Biden’s failure, he will be the nominee. will obtain.”
Romeo too pointed CNBC reported that 259 state legislators supported the campaign.
Never Back Down spokesman Dave Vasquez touted DeSantis’ fundraising success in a statement to CNBC.
“$150 million has been raised to elect Governor Ron DeSantis as the next president of the United States,” Vazquez said shortly after the article’s publication. “This total is the largest of any candidate in the primary this quarter this quarter. We’re lightyears ahead, and that’s why.” Everyone is so nervous going up against Governor DeSantis. ”
Despite donor concerns, some of DeSantis’ fundraisers have pushed back privately, saying national polls mean nothing when it comes to state primaries, the people said. some said.
For now, the DeSantis campaign is primarily focused on early primary and caucus states such as Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.quick vote Those states also suggest that DeSantis supports Trump, but that could change as the election draws nearer.
“There are always people complaining about something, but Governor DeSantis has run a vigorous campaign and introduced himself to early state voters,” said Dan, a Republican donor and DeSantis bundler. Everhart told CNBC. “I still think he will win Iowa and New Hampshire in the end.”
The Iowa caucus is scheduled for January.
Things are dire for DeSantis at the moment, but the race is still in its relatively early stages. DeSantis could get a boost at the Republican preliminary debate scheduled for August.Trump and his entourage He said he would likely not participate in the debate. DeSantis said the debate will take place in August regardless of whether Trump shows up.
Hal Lambert, a former fundraiser for Trump’s presidential campaign and now a DeSantis backer, told CNBC that he’s been texting with about half a dozen other donors. He said he hadn’t heard anything from him.
“I just want to say that the people who worry about the polls have clearly never been in a presidential campaign before,” Lambert said. “These national polls are almost meaningless.”
He added that the campaign is not perceived to be problematic and will not prevent DeSantis from pursuing a large-scale fundraising throughout the summer. As CNBC reported in June, DeSantis will be holding a fundraiser this month in the upscale Hamptons neighborhood of Long Island.
Lambert said fundraising events are planned in Colorado, Utah, Wisconsin and elsewhere. Another person familiar with the event in Colorado said it will be held this month in Aspen, a ski resort known to attract some of the wealthiest people in the world.
DeSantis will travel to Cape Cod, Massachusetts, in late July to raise money, according to an invitation to the rally. Jeffrey Lehnert, Co-CEO of Audax Group and former Bain Capital executive, is named as a co-host of the event.