Ron-DeSantis At least 42 billionaires and members of billionaire families have contributed to DeSantis’ reelection campaign.
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Today big money dominates US political campaigns to a degree not seen in decades. Will the voices of ordinary Americans be drowned under the financial avalanche?

Fundraising is an inevitable part of running for office, and hardworking Americans are often flooded by pleas for “whatever you can give.” Your $5 or $10 will make a difference in the race, many candidates suggest, with the implicit promise that if they are elected, they will represent you and vote for your interests. But this can cut both ways in the political arena.

Today big money dominates US political campaigns to a degree not seen in decades, according to the Brennan Center for Justice, a nonprofit law and public policy institute named after Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan.

Of course, this is no big secret; the mega-rich have always contributed to candidates’ war chests on both sides of the aisle. But when billionaires pour staggering amounts into campaigns, the voices of ordinary Americans are often drowned under the financial avalanche.

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That kind of support from the richest of the rich raises all sorts of questions about the influence of wealth on public policy. For this reason, it is crucial to know who is backing the candidates, and even the appearance of favoritism needs to be looked at closely.

As Support Grows, so Do the Dollars

If anyone has been a beneficiary of a financial avalanche, it is Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. At least 42 billionaires and members of billionaire families have contributed to DeSantis’ reelection campaign, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune reports. Again, this is not exactly news, since DeSantis has always been favorable to the business sector.

But there are two significant points to consider this time.

Number one is that according to the report, “of the 42 billionaires and billionaire family members identified, only 17 gave to DeSantis when he first ran in 2018.”

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This means that the rest came on board following the rise of DeSantis’ profile during the pandemic and amid claims of Florida being “the freest state in the nation” even as he signed laws to prohibit schools from teaching students the history of racial inequality in the US, ban discussion of LGBTQ topics in elementary schools, censor math books that allegedly mention critical race theory, and make it illegal to peacefully protest outside a house.

A Bid for the White House?

Twenty-five of the billionaire donors have given DeSantis six-figure contributions, putting him easily ahead of the pack when it comes to amassing funds for his political campaign. This matters, because gubernatorial ad spending in Florida is expected to reach $166 million by November. DeSantis has already raised more than half of that with $114 million in his coffers.

But —and here comes significant point number two— not all campaign contributions come from Florida. Some of those billionaire backers hail from 15 other states, including Julia Koch of Kansas, Vegas casino mogul Steve Wynn, and former President Trump’s education secretary, Betsy DeVos. This is significant when considering there is growing speculation that the Florida governor might also be eyeing a run for the White House in 2024.

Under Florida law, DeSantis is allowed to get unlimited checks from donors, unlike potential presidential candidates who serve in Congress. This puts him ahead of the game and may signal to those who believe the growing speculation that he will make a bid for the presidency in 2024, that now is the time to start writing the big checks to secure their place in DeSantis’ White House.