The presidential campaign of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Thursday it raised $20 million in the six weeks since the Republican launched his bid for the White House.
Separately, a major pro-DeSantis super PAC, Never Back Down, amassed $130 million since the group launched in March, a source familiar told CNBC. Much of that funding came from a controversial transfer of $82.5 million from a state-level political committee once controlled by DeSantis, according to the group’s financial filings.
The DeSantis campaign in a press release explicitly compared its $20 million haul to the $18.3 million raised byformer President Donald Trump, the Republican frontrunner, during his first two quarters as a 2024 candidate.
Trump’s campaign called that comparison misleading. Combined, Trump’s joint fundraising committee and his campaigntook in more than $35 million in the three-month stretch from April through June, sources told CNBC on Wednesday.
That figure eclipses DeSantis’ first financial showing. But DeSantis only officially jumped into the race on May 24, about six weeks ago. Absent the joint fundraising committee, Trump’s campaign raised about $14.5 million in the first quarter of 2023 and $3.8 million in the last month-and-a-half of 2022 for a total of $18.3 million.
“The campaign’s haul is the largest first-quarter filing from any non-incumbent Republican candidate in more than a decade,” the DeSantis campaign boasted in the press release.
His campaign manager, Generra Peck, said in that release, “Joe Biden’s leftist policies are destroying the country, and Republicans are excited to invest in a winner ready to lead America’s revival.”
Asked for comment, Trump campaign spokesman Steven Cheung directed CNBC to his tweet disputing the DeSantis campaign’s fundraising math.
“DeSanctimonious’ fundraising numbers comparison is as fake as his high heeled boots,” Cheung wrote. “Pres. Trump raised $28.3M in his first two quarters as an announced candidate, and $35M in this most-recent quarter.”
Cheung also predicted the 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 the Trump campaign was $34, officials told CNBC on Wednesday.
Despite DeSantis’ funding windfall and his status as a top presidential contender, he lags far behind Trump in early national polls of the GOP primary field.
Trump has enjoyed double-digit leads over his competitors throughout the primary, even after being indicted in two separate criminal cases while on the campaign trail.
Trump has netted endorsements from Republican lawmakers after he was indicted in Manhattan on charges of falsifying business records, and after he got hit with federal charges related to his alleged mishandling of classified records.
The Trump campaign has also reported multimillion-dollar fundraising surges following both indictments.