Since February 1st, more than $900,000 has flowed into a political committee supporting U.S. Representative Ron DeSantis in his bid to become Florida’s next governor. But some observers are wondering if DeSantis is fully committed to the race, pointing to the fact that he still hasn’t transferred about $1.6 million out of a federal PAC.
Those are dollars that can only flow one-way. If transferred to a state electioneering account, they cannot be converted back to a federal race at a later date. That has led to speculation that DeSantis may be hedging his bet, leaving a sizeable chunk of money in a federal account in case he decides to bail out of the governor’s race and defend his congressional seat instead.
But a spokesman for DeSantis says none of that is true.
“Of course Ron DeSantis is all in,” said Brad Herold, a consultant helping DeSantis. “He’s the leading candidate for governor right now.”
The two most recent polls show DeSantis trailing Agriculture Commission Adam Putnam by several percentage points. A Mason-Dixon poll released February 6th had Putnam up 27% to 23% over DeSantis, with a 7-point advantage in name ID. A Gravis Marketing poll on February 20th had Putnam leading 18% to 16%, with a margin of error of 2.2%.
With just over six months to go before primary election day, DeSantis will need to raise millions more dollars in order to overtake Putnam, who has close to $20 million cash on hand between his Florida Grown political committee and his official campaign account.
It’s possible that DeSantis may be holding onto his federal dollars because he’s looking to trade them at a premium with another state political party. In past election cycles, it is a fairly common practice for campaigns to work a deal with state political parties who need those federal dollars because they have a wealth of state dollars but can’t use them for federal races. In such cases, they are willing to trade more of their state money for fewer federal dollars. It remains to be seen if that kind of situation might evolve into a workable deal for DeSantis.
Meanwhile, House Speaker Richard Corcoran is still eyeing the race, and is likely to jump in shortly after the legislative session ends early next month. He and DeSantis would likely spar over some of the same voters as they vie for the GOP nomination.