Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has cemented himself as the face of GOP opposition to anti-Covid-19 mandates — a position that is winning over not only rank-and-file voters ahead of the 2024 presidential primaries but also some of the Republican Party’s wealthiest donors.
How the race shapes up will first and foremost be determined by whether former President Donald Trump decides to run. But many donors are investing early in potential candidates like DeSantis, whom polling shows to be the leading Trump alternative in the prospective presidential field.
Campaign finance records covering the first seven months of this year showed that prominent contributors, including many beyond Florida, are investing in his 2022 re-election campaign — which could further solidify his prospects.
Writing a check now is a low-risk way to get into DeSantis’ circle early, an investment if he runs for president and wins the nomination. Unlike the potential presidential candidates who serve in Congress and can accept only relatively small donations, DeSantis is allowed to get unlimited checks from donors under Florida law.
Ken Griffin, the GOP megadonor and billionaire founder of the hedge fund Citadel, donated $5 million to DeSantis’ campaign in April — the largest donation he has received this year. DeSantis also raked in $500,000 in May from WeatherTech founder David MacNeil, $250,000 in March from Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus and $250,000 in February from former Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner, who moved to Florida after he lost re-election. New York Jets owner Woody Johnson, an ambassador in the Trump administration, also donated.