Ron DeSantis’ campaign finances have some flashing warning signs


WASHINGTON – Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis tapped into top donors, spending $7.9 million in his first six weeks as a presidential candidate, according to an NBC News analysis of his new campaign finance disclosure.

The numbers suggest, for the first time, that solvency could be a threat to DeSantis’ campaign, which has touted its fundraising ability as a key measure of viability. They reflect the broader reality that DeSantis stalled after his release: Leading the Republican primary pack in the polls, but far behind former President Donald Trump.

The irony for DeSantis is that he raised a total of $20.1 million between mid-May and the end of June, well ahead of other Republican candidates, with the possible exception of Trump, who has yet to reveal how much his campaign raised in the second. room.

But more than two-thirds of DeSantis’ money, nearly $14 million, came from donors who gave the legal maximum and can’t donate again, NBC’s analysis shows. Some of those donors gave the $3,300 cap for primary and general elections, boosting DeSantis’ totals with cash that can’t be used to try to defeat Trump.

DeSantis ended June with more than $12.2 million in the bank, but his filing indicates that $3 million of that can only be used in the general election.

At the same time, DeSantis spent about 40 percent of what he raised, in part paying salaries to 92 people. That gives him by far the largest personnel footprint of any of Trump’s Republican rivals, but it also leaves him wondering how he can maintain his payroll, or something like it, without finding new sources of revenue. that’s it struggling to keep high profile supporters on board.

DeSantis has a financial advantage that no one else can match in the form of his super PAC, which can accept donations of unlimited size and has already received $130 million. But keeping a campaign running with smaller donations can be a whole different matter.

More broadly, Saturday’s second-quarter campaign finance deadline showed the challenge each of Trump’s rivals has in trying to wrest the nomination from him at a time when roughly half of voters of Republican primaries say he is their first choice.

No other Republican raised more than $6 million from donors in his campaign account, and North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum and businessman Vivek Ramaswamy surpassed that number only by tapping into their own personal wealth.

South Carolina Senator Tim Scott’s campaign raised nearly $5.9 million, while former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley’s campaign raised $5.3 million. And two candidates who waited until June to run posted lower numbers: Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie raised $1.7 million and former Vice President Mike Pence raised $1.2 million.

Their reports show a presidential field largely reluctant to invest in personnel and other major campaign costs, candidates having trouble leveraging small donors for big profits, and a handful of candidates already in danger of missing the first Committee debate. Republican National. This is what we saw in the second quarter financials.

Small campaign teams stand out early

DeSantis stands out among those who have filed their reports for having the largest campaign staff, by a mile. Its 92 employees on the payroll are more than double the next largest campaign to date.

Scott reported 54 campaign staffers while Ramaswamy reported 27 and Haley had 22 staffers. Former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson had six people on staff.

Other campaigns operated on a shoestring budget. Conservative radio host Larry Elder had one campaign staffer, while former Vice President Mike Pence, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, former Texas Republican Rep. Will Hurd and Miami Mayor Francis Suarez did not include anyone on their campaign staff. payroll as of June 30.

The qualification of the debate already seems complicated for some

The reports also show how difficult it can be for many of the lowest-voting candidates to reach the Republican National Committee’s 40,000-donor threshold to qualify for the party’s first debate in August, let alone the voting threshold.

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who raised just $580,000, said in a statement that his campaign had just 3,928 unique donors in the second quarter, as well as another 2,516 in the first 13 days of July. He needs six times as many to reach the threshold.

Miami Mayor Francis Suarez’s reports name just 352 unique donors, and he raised less than $29,000 from single donors who gave less than $200. Even if each unitized dollar were raised from a different single donor (which is unlikely), Suárez still would not have reached the threshold of debate until June.

And former Texas Rep. Will Hurd’s report names just 193 unique donors, along with another $54,000 in single donations.

Little Dollar Donor Struggles

One of the strengths of the Trump campaign has long been its appeal to small donors. The other side of the coin: His rivals aren’t getting much help from small donors right now.

DeSantis, who raised the lion’s share of Trump challengers in the second quarter, only saw about 14% of his total fundraising come from small donors, for about $2.9 million.

Haley and Scott, who spent millions building a small-donor fundraising infrastructure before launching presidential campaigns, raised just 16% ($870,000) and 21% ($1.2 million) of their second-quarter totals. also from small donors.

Among the field of Trump challengers, former Gov. Chris Christie received the lion’s share of his total from small donors: just under 35%. But that still resulted in only about $571,000 of his $1.6 million haul.

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