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Pro-DeSantis super PAC touts $30 million fundraising haul since launch in March

A recently formed super PAC that’s expected to serve as the main outside political group supporting an expected presidential campaign by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida appears to be off to a strong fundraising start.

An official with Never Back Down confirms to Fox News that the committee has hauled in $30 million in fundraising since the super PAC launched on March 9. The official, who asked to remain anonymous to discuss the super PACs internal operations, said all the money was raised rather than transferred from other committees and half of the contributions came from donors outside of Florida. 

Multiple sources say the super PAC has the tacit blessing of DeSantis, who is currently sitting on the 2024 sidelines but is expected to launch a presidential campaign later this year, following the end of the Florida legislative session in May. In an interview that ran recently on Fox Nation, the Florida governor said “stay tuned” when asked about his political future.

“Never Back Down has seen a massive surge in support for the movement to make Gov. DeSantis become President DeSantis,” Erin Perrine, the super PAC’s communications director, wrote on Twitter.

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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks to Iowa voters on March 10, 2023, in Des Moines.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks to Iowa voters on March 10, 2023, in Des Moines. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Super PACs, known as independent expenditure-only committees, are legally allowed to raise unlimited sums of money from corporations, unions, associations and individuals, and to spend unlimited sums to support or oppose political candidates. Unlike traditional PACs, they are prohibited under long-standing federal rules from either coordinating or contributing directly to a candidate or candidate’s campaign. 

Two other existing super PACs – “Ready for Ron” and “Ron to the Rescue,” which are not affiliated with DeSantis or his political circle – have also been raising money as they urge the governor to launch a presidential campaign. But sources in DeSantis’ wider political orbit have described those groups as “a grift – plain and simple.”

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Never Back Down is putting the money it’s raising online into a “Draft Ron” fund that could be transferred to an eventual DeSantis presidential campaign.

Ken Cuccinelli, , a former Virginia attorney general and the state’s 2013 GOP gubernatorial nominee who later served as acting deputy homeland security director during the last two years of former President Donald Trump’s administration, is chairing the super PAC.

Ken Cuccinelli shares potential DeSantis 2024 campaign details in New Hampshire.mp4 Video

He told Fox News Digital last month that Never Back Down is “trying to provide an organizational center with the super PAC so that people can start getting ready if he [DeSantis] does decide to get in, which looks likely… that we’ll already have prepared the ground for him and he’ll be off and running to a much faster start than he otherwise could have pulled off.”

DeSantis exhibited his fundraising prowess last year, as he hauled in more than $217 million for his gubernatorial re-election bid, which he ended up winning by 19 points. The money he raised was the most ever by a gubernatorial candidate in U.S. history. DeSantis had over $80 million in his state political committee as of a month ago, funds that could be transferred to a separate group supporting any White House bid.

The governor saw his popularity soar among conservatives across the country over the past three years due to his forceful pushback against coronavirus pandemic restrictions and his aggressive actions as a culture warrior going after the media, corporations and teachers’ unions. In speeches this year, the governor has pitched his numerous conservative policy victories in Florida as a roadmap for the entire nation.

Additionally, he has been traveling across the country, highlighting his “Florida blueprint” and promoting his newly released memoir, “The Courage to Be Free.” Those stops have included Iowa and Nevada, which hold the first and fourth contests in the GOP presidential nominating calendar, with a visit later this month to New Hampshire, which votes second in the Republican primary calendar.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at a campaign event, March 10, 2023, in Davenport, Iowa.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at a campaign event, March 10, 2023, in Davenport, Iowa. (AP Photo/Ron Johnson)

Donald Trump, who launched his third White House campaign in November and who remains the front-runner in the GOP nomination race, views DeSantis as his chief rival, and the former president has ramped up attacks on the Florida governor in recent weeks as his own legal troubles have mounted.

Last week Never Back Down went up with a video titled “Waco Crickets,” which highlighted media reports indicating the loud and boisterous crowd at the Trump rally a week and a half ago in Waco, Texas, turned mostly quiet when the former presidential repeatedly attacked the Florida governor. The video, which was shared first with Fox News, was the first shot by Never Back Down toward Trump.

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DeSantis’ poll numbers in the early 2024 GOP presidential nomination race have slipped in recent weeks, as Trump has made gains. Additionally, he received plenty of pushback from fellow Republicans for recent comments describing the Russian war against Ukraine was a “territorial dispute” and saying, “I don’t think it’s in our interest to be getting into proxy war with China.”

News of Never Back Down’s fundraising was first reported by the New York Times.

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