Republican presidential candidate Ron DeSantis is relying on larger donors to fuel his campaign and saw the pace of contributions slow after his initial announcement, a new report detailing his fundraising for the quarter ended June 30 shows.
His campaign also confirmed to CNN on Saturday that it had recently let some staffers go.
“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,” DeSantis’ campaign spokesperson Andrew Romeo said in a statement.
Politico reported Saturday that “fewer than 10 staffers” in event planning were cut on Thursday. DeSantis’ latest FEC fiiling shows that about 90 people were on his campaign payroll during the second quarter. Two veterans of his political operation are also departing the campaign to work with an outside group that will focus on boosting his presidential bid.
DeSantis’s camp has been working to reassure his benefactors that he has a path to the GOP nomination, even as he continues to trail former President Donald Trump in the polls.
DeSantis, whose campaign posted a strong second-quarter haul of $20 million, saw his fundraising surge after launching his White House bid on May 24, but it quickly fell off in the weeks that followed, a CNN review shows. Among individuals giving more than $200, DeSantis raised more than $5 million in the opening days of his campaign – roughly 30% of the total he raised from those donors in the quarter.
Candidates are only required to disclose details on contributions that exceed $200, including the date they were received.
And DeSantis’ filing with federal regulators shows that a relatively small share – roughly 15% – of his individual contributions came in amounts of $200 or less. Donors who contribute in small amounts are valuable to campaigns because they can be tapped repeatedly for contributions before they hit donation limits. Robust small-dollar donations can also be a sign of grassroots momentum behind a campaign.
About $3 million of the $20 million DeSantis reported raising in the second quarter cannot be touched in the battle for the 2024 GOP nomination because it is designated for the general election and cannot be used unless he becomes his party’s standard-bearer.
Trump has traditionally relied on legions of grassroots donors to sustain his campaigns. Candidates still were filing their reports with the FEC on Saturday night as the midnight deadline to disclose their fundraising and spending details for the April to June period approached.
The filings offer a snapshot of which Republican candidates are struggling to gain early traction with donors and those who have jumped to early leads.
DeSantis has significant resources behind his campaign. A super PAC supporting his candidacy, Never Back Down, has previously announced taking in $130 million since it launched in March. But nearly two-thirds of that sum came from a state political committee tied to DeSantis’ 2022 reelection campaign in Florida, as CNN has previously reported.
This story has been updated with additional information.