DeSantis is widely considered the biggest star not named “Donald Trump” in the Republican Party. He is consistently second to Trump in the 2024 mock polls and often wins them outright when Trump is not included.
And unlike many other Republicans mentioned as possible 2024 nominees, DeSantis hasn’t said he’ll drop out of the race to make way for Trump.
Which, of course, Trump took note of. “I think most of these people, and almost all of the names you mentioned, are there because of me,” Trump told The Washington Post earlier this week of the potential field. “In some cases, because I supported them and endorsed them. You know, Ron was at 3%, and the day I endorsed him, he won the race.”
It’s unclear what DeSantis makes of all this. His 2022 re-election campaign gives him a convenient excuse to postpone all 2024 questions until after November. (Polls suggest he is the clear favorite for a second term in Republican-leaning Florida.)
But make no mistake: DeSantis and his allies really wanted to send a message with his fundraising totals. (According to CNN, he appears to be the first governor to cross the $100 million mark in fundraising through donations alone.)
The message is: I’m the big dog on this block.
The simple fact is that, aside from Trump, there are very few other Republican politicians who can come close to the number DeSantis just put on the board.
While fundraising is not a guarantee of success in a presidential race – see Jeb Bush – it does tend to signal that a candidate has deep and broad support. Additionally, it costs a lot of money to set up organizations in early voting states and nationwide.
Point: The jockey for 2024 is already well underway in the GOP. And DeSantis just made his way to the front of the line.