Florida Governor Ron DeSantis this week took credit for a flight that brought illegal immigrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard, the latest conservative to protest the rise of illegal immigration by transporting border crossers to liberal nations. became a member of parliament.

The governor’s stunt may have broken the law, prompting locals to support immigrants. DeSantis has drawn national attention for defending his state’s so-called gay ban laws and downplaying the risk of COVID-19 .

But perhaps it is his fundraising ability that cements his status as a prime candidate to replace Mr. Trump. After years of diligently collecting checks, the governor of Florida is about to hit a major milestone. He will soon assume the mantle of being the most well-funded gubernatorial candidate to date.

This is according to OpenSecrets.org data from decades ago.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis speaks after the midterm primaries.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis speaks after the midterm primaries in Tampa in August. (Reuters/Octavio Jones)

“DeSantis’ story is about politicians using state campaigns as test sites for potential presidential elections,” Sarah Bryner, director of research and strategy at OpenSecrets, told Yahoo Finance on Friday. Told.

DeSantis structured the fundraiser in a new way, directing donors to both campaign and political action committees. Bryner said the PAC is successful because it has no contribution limits.

Team DeSantis’ Biggest Checkbook

Many wealthy donors are taking full advantage of that quirk in campaign finance law.

A major contributor is Ken Griffin, CEO of Citadel. The hedge funder has been backing DeSantis for years, and in 2018 he gave $5.75 million, plus his current campaign gives him $5 million.

Griffin declined to name DeSantis as a favorite when he attended the Milken Institute Global Conference in May. However, DeSantis admitted that he “did a lot of things right” when it came to preparing for 2024.

Griffin also said he did not appreciate the governor’s recent campaign against The Walt Disney Company (DIS) over its opposition to the state’s anti-gay laws. It can be described, it can be felt, it can be seen,” said Griffin.

Citadel CEO Ken Griffin speaks at the 2022 Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, CA, USA, May 2, 2022.  REUTERS/Mike Blake

Citadel CEO Ken Griffin speaks at the 2022 Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, CA in May. (Reuters/Mike Blake)

According to the latest data, DeSantis has raised more than $174 million since taking office. That’s far more than he would need to keep his leading seat in the polls with his Democratic rival Charlie Christ. The money is ostensibly being raised for the upcoming gubernatorial election, but apparently he’s targeting 2024.

The largest contributor of record is Robert Bigelow. The Budget Suites hotel chain owner has written only one check so far this election cycle. To DeSantis PAC he has $10 million. According to Forbes, Bigelow has made his fortune to an improbable variety of causes, from UFO hunting to “consciousness research” to inflatable space habitats.

Another major donor is Richard Uihlein and his wife, who donated $1.2 million. Worth an estimated $3.9 billion, according to Federal Election Commission data, Uihlein funded Trump during the 2020 election but has not funded the former president since. It has endorsed a string of pro-Trump candidates this year, including Herschel Walker of Georgia and Blake Masters of Arizona.

There are many other notable people in the DeSantis donor database. Notable financial figures include Franklin Resources’ Charles B. Johnson ($594,919 since 2019). Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus ($500,000) and hedge fund Paul Tudor Jones ($400,000).

ATLANTA - NOVEMBER 19: Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus speaks before the ribbon cutting ceremony at the Georgia Aquarium on November 19, 2005 in Atlanta, Georgia. The Georgia Aquarium, the world's largest with over 8 million he by gallons and over 100,000 by fish, opened to the public on November 23, 2005. Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus and his wife Billi through the Marcus Foundation.(Photo by Barry Williams/Getty Images)

Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus at a ribbon-cutting ceremony in 2005. (Barry Williams/Getty Images)

DeSantis has already set a fundraising record among non-self-funded governors and will soon surpass the amount of funding achieved by Meg Whitman of California and Jay Pritzker of Illinois in recent years.This Her Two Billionaires Spent Millions On Their respective Campaigns

DeSantis and Trump are ‘building up a military coffer’

The Governor of Florida has also been notified by another major Republican funder, but still has no money. Billionaire Peter Thiel was a major Trump donor in 2016 when he ran for president in 2020, and at a recent conservatism conference, DeSantis said, “In terms of offering a real alternative to California. And probably the best governor,” he said.

Neither Trump nor DeSantis have yet announced plans to run for president in 2024, but Bryner, both of whom have built their war chests in the campaign, will compete for funders in 2023. says it is possible.

US President Donald Trump Attends

Then-President Donald Trump and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis attend the 2020 “COVID-19 Response and Storm Preparedness” event in Bel Air, Florida. (REUTERS/Tom Brenner)

Trump easily beats DeSantis in nearly every poll, but this could be a far from reliable indicator far ahead of the election. He has maintained his usual bravery in the face of challenges.

Asked about potential competition from DeSantis, Trump said in an interview with Yahoo Finance last year:

Ben Werschkul is the Washington correspondent for Yahoo Finance.

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