POLITICS

Campaign finance reports ring alarm bells for DeSantis, Pence falls behind

Jul 16, 2023, 10:07 AM

Ron DeSantis...

Republican presidential candidate Florida Governor Ron DeSantis speaks at U.S. Rep. Zach Nunn’s “Operation Top Nunn: Salute to Our Troops" fundraiser on July 15, 2023 in Ankeny, Iowa. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

(CNN) — The first full financial look at the 2024 presidential race came into focus over the weekend as candidates filed campaign finance reports with federal regulators. They highlight potential trouble spots for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and expose a wide chasm between the early fundraising leaders in the Republican primary and the rest of the GOP field.

Here are takeaways from the second-quarter fundraising reports for the three months ending June 30.

DeSantis’ burn rate

The Florida governor raised $20 million – a strong total – but his campaign is burning through cash at a rapid rate, spending nearly $8 million since he entered the contest in late May, according to its filing Saturday with the Federal Election Commission.

Travel and payroll expenses each topped $1 million, and more than $800,000 went to digital fundraising consulting, according to the campaign’s report. As of the end of June, DeSantis employed 90 people, compared to nearly 40 people employed by the campaign of former President Donald Trump, the current GOP primary front-runner.

On Saturday, a DeSantis campaign aide confirmed that the team had recently trimmed some staff.

“Defeating Joe Biden and the $72 million behind him will require a nimble and candidate-driven campaign, and we are building a movement to go the distance,” campaign spokesperson Andrew Romeo said in a statement.

The latest filing underscores another warning sign for DeSantis: A small share – less than 15% – of his contributions from individuals came in amounts of $200 or less. Robust small-dollar donations can offer a sign of grassroots momentum behind a campaign, and supporters who contribute small amounts can be tapped repeatedly for donations before hitting the maximum $3,300 an individual can legally donate in primary elections.

DeSantis entered the second half of the year with $12.2 million remaining in the bank, but only about $9 million of that is available for spending in the GOP primary. DeSantis collected some $3 million in general election money from maxed-out donors that can only be spent if he secures his party’s nomination.

Pence struggles

This weekend’s reports also underscore a stark divide between those who raised substantial sums – such as Trump and DeSantis – and the other well-known political figures competing for the GOP nod.

Former Vice President Mike Pence languished at the bottom half of the pack, bringing in less than $1.2 million, the filings show. He entered the 2024 race in the first week of June, with a little more than three weeks remaining in the fundraising quarter but had spent months preparing a bid. His paltry numbers raise questions about whether he can gain traction among the party faithful.

Nearly 30% of contributions from individuals to Pence came from people who donated $200 or less. Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie outraised the former vice president – bringing in more than $1.65 million during the first 25 days of his candidacy – and took in more than a third of his individual contributions in these smaller amounts.

Notably, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, who is largely self-financing his campaign, took in more money from contributors – nearly $1.6 million – than Pence did. (Burgum, a former software executive, is working hard to lure donors, offering $20 gift cards for donations of at least $1 as tries to meet the contributor threshold to qualify for the first GOP debate next month.)

Big fundraising operations

Trump, who leads the GOP field in polling, raised $17.7 million during the quarter – most of which was transferred from a joint fundraising committee that also sends donations to a leadership PAC, Save America.

Save America has paid the former president’s legal expenses in the past; Trump now has been indicted twice this year – first by a Manhattan grand jury in connection with an alleged hush-money scheme and then by a federal grand jury, related to allegations that he mishandled classified documents after leaving the White House. He has denied any wrongdoing.

Trump’s campaign previously announced raising a total of $35 million in the second quarter through his joint fundraising operation. But the full picture on how that money was divided and spent won’t become apparent until later this month when additional reports are filed.

Trump reported $22.5 million in cash on hand as of June 30, topping the GOP field. In second place, with $21.1 million, was South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott – who transferred big sums from his Senate campaign account to his presidential operation.

Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley entered July with more than $6.8 million in the bank, putting her in the middle of the GOP pack.

Biotech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, meanwhile, continues to plow his personal fortune into the contest, loaning his campaign another $5 million in the second quarter, the reports show. He started July with more than $9 million in cash reserves – money he can easily replenish if he continues to spend heavily to introduce himself to the GOP electorate.

President Joe Biden has announced raising $72 million with the Democratic National Committee, which reports its fundraising later in the week. But that total haul is nearly as much money as what all the major GOP contenders combined reported collecting in their main campaign accounts during the second quarter.

The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2023 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

KSL 5 TV Live

Politics

President Donald Trump waves to the crowd as he departs a campaign rally at Las Vegas Convention Ce...

Gabe Stern, Associated Press/Report for America

Nevada grand jury indicts six pro-Trump 2020 fake electors

A Nevada grand jury has indicted six Republicans who submitted certificates to Congress falsely declaring Donald Trump the winner of the 2020 presidential election.

51 minutes ago

FIlE - Surrounded by Army cadets, President Donald Trump watches the first half of the 121st Army-N...

Nicholas Riccardi, Associated Press

Colorado Supreme Court will hear arguments on removing Trump from ballot

The Colorado Supreme Court is set to hear arguments over whether former President Donald Trump should be barred from running for president again under the Constitution's ban against those who “engaged in insurrection."

6 hours ago

FILE - Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., talks to reporters after a closed-door meetin...

Michael R. Blood, AP Political Writer

GOP Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California is resigning months after his ouster as House speaker

Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the ousted Republican speaker, announces he will leave Congress at the end of the year.

7 hours ago

President Joe Biden, here on June 1, sets off on a fundraising sprint Tuesday as he looks to tap in...

Kevin Liptak, David Wright and Samantha Waldenberg, CNN

Biden tells donors he’s ‘not sure I’d be running’ in 2024 if Trump wasn’t in the race

resident Joe Biden told Democratic donors Tuesday he wasn’t confident he’d be seeking another term if his predecessor Donald Trump wasn’t running for the White House.

21 hours ago

Gov. Spencer Cox speaks at the PBS Utah Governor’s Monthly News Conference at the Eccles Broadcas...

Lindsay Aerts

Gov. Cox’s budget asks for child care funding

The ask is for $5 million to create more child care centers, and $4.7 million to expand the child tax credit up to age 5.

22 hours ago

FILE - Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, talks to rep...

KEVIN FREKING Associated Press

Senate approves hundreds of military promotions after GOP senator ends blockade of nominees

The Senate in a single stroke has approved about 425 military promotions after Sen. Tommy Tuberville of Alabama ended a monthslong blockade of nominations over a Pentagon abortion policy.

1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

Users display warnings about the use of artificial intelligence (AI), access to malicious software ...

Les Olson

How to Stay Safe from Cybersecurity Threats

Read our tips for reading for how to respond to rising cybersecurity threats in 2023 and beyond to keep yourself and your company safe.

Design mockup half in white and half in color of luxury house interior with open plan living room a...

Lighting Design

Lighting Design 101: Learn the Basics

These lighting design basics will help you when designing your home, so you can meet both practical and aesthetic needs.

an antler with large horns int he wilderness...

Three Bear Lodge

Yellowstone in the Fall: A Wildlife Spectacle Worth Witnessing

While most people travel to this park in the summer, late fall in Yellowstone provides a wealth of highlights to make a memorable experience.

a diverse group of students raising their hands in a classroom...

Little Orchard Preschool

6 Benefits of Preschool for Kids

Some of the benefits of preschool for kids include developing independence, curiosity, and learning more about the world.

Campaign finance reports ring alarm bells for DeSantis, Pence falls behind