Republican Presidential candidate Ron DeSantis raised $20 million during the second quarter of the year, according to his campaign on Thursday, a sign they say indicates he is ready to challenge President Donald Trump and is a viable candidate despite recent struggles.
In comparison, Trump’s main fundraising committee took in a whopping $35 million in the second quarter despite the former president’s mounting legal troubles, amounting to a sizeable increase from the previous quarter.
“We are grateful for the investment so many Americans have made to get this country back on track,” said Generra Peck, DeSantis’ campaign manager.
The primary super PAC backing DeSantis’ bid, Never Back Down, which handles many on-the-ground operations in early voting states, said in a separate statement Thursday it brought in $130 million since it formed in March.
The haul included more than $80 million that the committee received in May from a committee related to DeSantis’ re-election effort in the 2022 Florida gubernatorial campaign.
Experts in campaign finance have argued that the transfer may have flouted campaign finance rules that require super PACs to be independent from the candidates they back.
MAGA Inc., Trump’s counterpart to DeSantis’ Never Back Down, has yet to disclose how much money it has raised this year. However, it received $60 million last year from a separate committee linked to Trump.
Governor DeSantis’ fundraising tally in the six weeks since he launched his presidential campaign suggests a significant share of GOP donors are seeking an alternative to Trump in the party primary that begins early next year. The nominee will face off against President Joe Biden in November 2024.
Even so, the Florida governor has been unable to cut into Trump’s commanding lead in the early polls, which have seen the former president leading by as many as 30 percentage points.
Trump’s campaign disputes DeSantis’ claims of growing strength
When asked for a comment, Steven Cheung, Trump campaign spokesman, disputed DeSantis’s fundraising math. “DeSanctimonious’ fundraising numbers comparison is as fake as his high-heeled boots,” wrote Cheung. “Pres. Trump raised $28.3 million as an announced candidate in his first two quarters and $35 million in this most recent quarter.”
Cheung referred to the combined totals of Trump’s campaign and his joint fundraising committee.
He also predicted Governor DeSantis’ campaign will show an “extremely high average donation,” indicating the governor’s team has exhausted its options with wealthy donors, gained “zero traction with the Republican grassroots,” and is “politically dead.”
The average donation to Trump’s campaign was $34, said officials Wednesday.