Some of Florida Gov. Ron. DeSantis’s (R-FL) top donors to his gubernatorial campaign are keeping their “powder dry” in the 2024 presidential race or donating to other candidates as the governor falls further behind former President Donald Trump, according to a report.
Politico on Wednesday reported that only 16 of 50 big donors to DeSantis’s 2022 reelection campaign have opened their wallets for the governor’s super PAC Never Back Down, which is supporting his 2024 run, and only eight others have given directly to his presidential campaign.
Five of the 50 donors are supporting rival presidential candidates and those who are giving to DeSantis’s campaign or Never Back Down are also donating to other candidates, the report added.
The report cites several donors who said they are concerned with the positions DeSantis has taken on the campaign trail, arguing they are not moderate enough.
In a huge blow, hotel and aerospace executive Robert Bigelow — the biggest individual contributor to Never Back Down and to DeSantis’ reelection campaign — last month told Reuters that he would not give any more to DeSantis’s super PAC until he adopted more moderate policies and can show he can pull in more contributions on his own.
And businessman Thomas Peterffy told the Financial Times that he and “a bunch of friends, are holding our powder dry” because of positions the governor had taken on social issues, Politico reported. Peterffy has donated to a PAC aligned with Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R), who some donors hope will run.
The report noted that Never Back Down still has a whopping $97 million to spend, which surpasses his rivals, but those funds are “overwhelmingly drawn” from an $82 million transfer from a Florida-based political committee that backed DeSantis’s reelection bid.
The campaign has already sounded alarm bells with donors. During a recent meeting, top Never Back Down officials urged donors to pony up $50 million more by the end of the year.
“We just need your help getting $50 million more by the end of the year, and $100 million more by the end of March,” the super PAC’s CEO Chris Jankowski told donors, according to a recent report by CNN. “I’m not worried about the second 50. We need the first 50.”
A DeSantis campaign spokesperson defended support for DeSantis in a statement to Politico.
“Ron DeSantis outraised both Biden and Trump last quarter, and we continue to see overwhelming enthusiasm from grassroots and major supporters chipping in to help our campaign,” campaign spokesman Andrew Romeo said.
“We look forward to continued fundraising success this quarter as we capitalize on his strong debate performance and momentum in the early states,” he said.