While small-dollar donors have helped former President Donald Trump amass a huge war chest for another possible run at the Republican presidential nomination, Wall Street money appears to be on Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
A fifth of the $55 million that DeSantis, R-Fla. has raised this year came from hedge-fund billionaires, private-equity bankers, investment managers, and other finance industry donors, Bloomberg reported Tuesday.
Trump received less than 2% of his 2020 reelection funds from Wall Street, Bloomberg said.
“Ron DeSantis is my favorite man,” Thomas Peterffy, 76-year-old billionaire chairman of Greenwich, Connecticut-based Interactive Brokers, told Bloomberg.
Peterffy, who gave hundreds of thousands to Trump in 2016 and 2017, told Bloomberg he preferred the impulsive Trump not run in ’24. He donated $250,000 to DeSantis’s PAC in April.
“[DeSantis] does much more substantial planning,” Peterffy says. “He thinks about how he wants to implement things. He gives himself time to think it through.”
Florida Division of Elections records showed that DeSantis has received contributions from superrich donors in finance. They include Citadel’s billionaire owner Ken Griffin, who donated $5 million to DeSantis’ PAC; Tudor Management’s Paul Tudor Jones II, who contributed $400,000; and buyout pioneer John Childs, who gave $250,000.
All three men have homes in Florida. Peterffy lives in the Sunshine State most of the year.
“I think the Wall Street guys love that Gov. DeSantis has guts and was willing to keep Florida open, to keep the economy going in our state,” said lobbyist Nick Iarossi, who was authorized by DeSantis to speak about fundraising.
DeSantis also raised about $1 million from dozens of former Trump backers, such as billionaire John Paulson, in the financial industry.
The 43-year-old DeSantis gained national prominence by pushing back on shutdowns and mask mandates during the COVID-19 pandemic. He has remained in the news by fighting against cancel culture and many of President Joe Biden’s progressive policies.
Donations to DeSantis’ PAC were at their highest levels before the delta variant caused an uptick in COVID-19 infections in Florida. About 30% of the state’s 54,063 coronavirus deaths have been reported since July 1.
DeSantis’ goal of raising $150 million for his 2022 gubernatorial reelection campaign is 2½ times what he stockpiled to get elected in 2018. He has headlined fundraising events in states such as Nebraska and New Jersey.
So far, 42.5% of DeSantis’ donations have come from out-of-state donors.
“He has the most impressive national fundraising network, except for President Trump,” GOP lobbyist Brian Ballard told Bloomberg.
Recent polling by Echelon Insights said DeSantis was leading the group of potential ’24 GOP presidential contenders. Former Vice President Mike Pence and former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley trailed the Florida governor.
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