Ron DeSantis, the Republican governor of Florida whose resounding reelection victory last month established him as a possible contender for his party’s 2024 presidential nomination, is huddling with some of his top donors this month as he charts his plans for the future.
Invitations went out this week for an “intimate dinner” on Sunday in Miami with DeSantis and his wife, said two people familiar with the details, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to preview a private event. The invitations were addressed to the governor’s “strongest supporters.” One person said additional gatherings may take place in other parts of the state.
A DeSantis campaign spokeswoman declined to comment.
The dinner — the governor’s first known gathering with donors since last month’s midterms — isn’t explicitly about the 2024 race, knowledgeable people said. Rather, the invitation describes it as a chance to toast the victory notched by DeSantis — in which he achieved the largest margin by a Republican gubernatorial candidate in modern history — and discuss the road ahead.
DeSantis, in his victory speech last month, strongly signaled that road would take him to the national stage, offering Florida as an example for the rest of the country.
“The survival of the American experiment requires a revival of true American principles,” he said. “Florida has proved that it can be done. We offer a ray of hope that better days still lie ahead.”
DeSantis has more than $70 million held in reserve from his reelection campaign that he may seek to use in service of a presidential bid. He established himself as his party’s most dominant fundraiser this cycle, bringing in more than $200 million between a campaign committee and an aligned PAC. The PAC was able to accept unlimited individual and corporate contributions.
Some of his top donors included Robert Bigelow, the owner of Budget Suites of America who gave $10 million, and Ken Griffin, the founder and chief executive of the hedge fund Citadel who gave $5 million.
DeSantis’s donor gathering comes as he seeks to sidestep a feud with Trump, who announced his 2024 campaign last month and unleashed a volley of attacks on the popular Florida governor, whom he endorsed in 2018, elevating him in a tight primary contest. He labeled DeSantis “Governor Ron DeSanctimonious” and, after his reelection last month, derided him as an “average Republican governor.”
DeSantis, asked about the comments after the election, said he would “just tell people to check out the scoreboard last Tuesday night.”
“One of the things that I’ve learned in this job, when you’re leading, when you are getting things done, yeah, you take incoming fire,” he said. “That’s just the nature of it.”
People who have spoken to DeSantis about the 2024 contest say he has not made up his mind about a possible campaign. One ally predicted that any announcement would come after Florida’s legislative session ends in May.
Other potential 2024 GOP entrants have also been courting donors as they prepare to mount potential challenges to Trump.
Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin held a “Red Vest Retreat” earlier this year that people involved described to The Washington Post as an opportunity to sound out his presidential prospects. Former U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley has indicated she’ll decide about a campaign over the holidays. She appeared last month at a Republican Jewish Coalition conference in Las Vegas alongside former vice president Mike Pence, former secretary of state Mike Pompeo and other potential rivals in an unofficial primary kickoff. DeSantis spoke last at the cattle call and received a rock star’s reception.
Isaac Arnsdorf and Hannah Knowles contributed to this report.