In a press conference on Friday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis predicted that if Democrat Stacey Abrams is elected governor, there will be a “Cold War” between Florida and Georgia.
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As he began his remarks, DeSantis mentioned that the Masters golf tournament was taking place this weekend in Augusta, Georgia.
“I just want you to know that we really appreciate our Georgians,” he told the crowd in Gulf County.
“If Stacey Abrams is elected Governor of Georgia, I’m just going to be honest, that will be a Cold War between Florida and Georgia at that point,” DeSantis said. “I mean, I can’t have Castro to my south and Abrams to my north. That’d be a disaster.”
“I hope you guys [Georgia voters] take care of that and we end up in good shape,” he added.
The announcement of Abrams’ candidacy took place in December. Before that, she served as minority leader in Georgia’s House of Representatives from 2011 to 2019. She represented Georgia’s 89th district from 2007 to 2017.
Governor Brian Kemp, a Republican, defeated Abrams in the 2018 election for Georgia governor. Abrams could face Kemp in 2022, or she could run against former Republican U.S. Senator David Perdue for the gubernatorial election.
Emerson College and The Hill released polls this week showing Kemp leading Abrams 51 percent to 44 percent. Further, Kemp’s primary opponent, Perdue, leads Abrams by a margin of 49 percent to 44 percent.
“Abrams’s chances in November depend in large part on whether or not these younger voters turn out,” Emerson College Polling researcher Spencer Kimball told reporters. In the poll, 1,013 registered voters were surveyed between April 1-3, and the margin of error was plus or minus 3 percentage points.
The Florida governor has emerged as a major force in the Republican Party and is considering running for president in 2024.
Many issues, such as gun control, immigration, and the LGBTQ community, are polar opposites between Democratic candidate and Republican governor.
While DeSantis signed the child protection bill into law, which bans discussion of gender identity and sexual orientation in kindergarten through third grade, critics say that this stigmatizes transgender and LGBTQ youth, Abrams’s website states she wants to “nurture and protect” LGBTQ children.
The Republican governor of Florida has raised more than $100 million for his re-election campaign, which makes him the first gubernatorial candidate in the state and possibly in the entire country to surpass the milestone.
Besides giving DeSantis a significant advantage over Democrats this November, this staggering sum also sends an unambiguous message to the field of possible Republicans running for president in 2024 that is already a promising contender with deep support from both major donors and grassroots voters alike.
He has the kind of fundraising skills that “catapults him into the top tier of potential GOP candidates,” said Scott Reed, former president of the US Chamber of Commerce and a veteran GOP strategist.
“He’s been asking for big licks — $5 million and $10 million per fundraiser — and he’s getting them and that’s a warning sign,” Reed added. “DeSantis is the talk of every Republican cocktail party and every organizational meeting. His support spans the money class and the movement conservatives. And that’s a strong combination early in the game.”
According to the state, March’s fundraising figures won’t be released until Monday, the state’s deadline for reporting March’s numbers. On the other hand, a review of donations posted to the website of his campaign committee, Friends of Ron DeSantis, indicates that he raised $6.1 million in March.
Both his campaign and political committee have raised a combined $96 million this cycle through February, which is completely independent of one another.
Although it is difficult to analyze fundraising numbers across state lines due to the abundance of political committees and different campaign finance laws, it looks like DeSantis is the first candidate in any state to surpass $100 million entirely through contributions.
Based on data provided by the campaign finance watchdog OpenSecrets, the two past gubernatorial candidates who accumulated $100 million campaigns – Meg Whitman, the 2010 GOP candidate for governor of California, and JB Pritzker, who owns Hyatt Hotels. Both financed their campaigns almost entirely with their own money.
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DeSantis isn’t rich, though. He spent less than three years in Congress before becoming governor. He had previously served as a lawyer in the Navy. In his most recent financial disclosure form, he disclosed a net worth of $348,000.
Instead of relying just on one source of fundraising, DeSantis uses multiple sources. The state party and national party have contributed heavily to him and he has traveled the country seeking funding from wealthy Republicans. A number of influential Florida businesses have written checks to his political committee. He also has received small donations from every state.
Former President Donald Trump’s network of donors has also been used by DeSantis, including Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus, WeatherTech CEO David MacNeil, and shipping tycoon Richard Uihlein and his wife Elizabeth. They have all given DeSantis’ political committee six-figure amounts.