The clock is about to start ticking on Ron DeSantis’ presidential announcement.
On Monday, the Florida governor’s political operation will move to its new base of operations, prompting disclosure requirements with federal officials.
DeSantis’ political operation is currently in downtown Tallahassee, but staff will briefly move to a new downtown location that will serve as a more official campaign home, according to a source familiar with campaign plans, as well as another person. connoisseur of the move.
That measure will require the as-yet-unfiled campaign to spend more than $5,000, and under Federal Election Commission guidelines, when someone running for federal office spends more than $5,000, they must register, file financial reports, and appoint a committee of main campaign. .
Functionally, the office change will require DeSantis to submit documents to federal election officials. within 15 daysthus publicly acknowledging for the first time that he is running for president.
“The DeSantis team has been staying in the Florida Republican building since re-election,” said a veteran Republican consultant. “They are preparing to move soon. By moving, they would be spending funds and [it] you will most likely force them to file a ‘Form 1‘ with the FEC, which would force an announcement sooner rather than later.»
“This move starts the countdown,” according to a source close to DeSantis’s political operation. «It’s hard to see how you turn around after that.»
A DeSantis spokesman declined to comment.
The move and the upcoming filing represent the most concrete steps in what has long been a behind-the-scenes effort to slowly build out a DeSantis political operation that, in his first few years in office, has been notoriously small.
A DeSantis-aligned super PAC called Never Back Down has raised tens of millions of dollars and served as a bulldog against former President Trump, whose regular jabs at DeSantis have thus far been largely ignored by the governor. The organization is also running pro-DeSantis television ads and training staff in battleground states across the country to have a presidential-grade infrastructure for a formal launch. DeSantis’s advisers told NBC News in April that they were hatching a long-term delegate strategy that would involve a lengthy battle with Trump.
DeSantis and his wife, Casey, also began hosting dinners with small groups of donors at the Florida governor’s mansion to try to build an already substantial fundraising base. According to a source familiar with the operation, DeSantis has hosted eight dinner parties in the past two weeks. Each has had between 15 and 20 of the “biggest and best” donors from across the country.
“The people who were at these dinners were carefully selected top fundraisers,” the source said.
The source, who attended one of the dinners, said that before the meal guests had the opportunity to attend a briefing with senior staff, who answered questions and addressed any donor concerns. The person added that in her experience, this kind of transparency from staff members to donors was unprecedented.
Among those in attendance at the donor dinners were Scott Wagner, a Miami attorney and longtime DeSantis supporter who served as co-chair of the governor’s 2022 transition team, and Texas businessman and top fundraiser Republican Roy Bailey, who served as co-national finance director. Chairman of the Trump campaigns.
Bailey told NBC News he came out «dead» and waiting for DeSantis to run.
DeSantis told attendees that he would not always respond to Trump’s attacks, but when he does it will be for «politics,» according to another source.
DeSantis also discussed his plans to go after the bureaucracy in Washington, including the idea of canceling the plan for the new FBI headquarters, which is looking to move out of its dilapidated building in downtown Washington, DC. He floated pulling more federal agencies out of Washington to force officials to resign. something trump did as well as president.
DeSantis also leaned toward the idea that he could have two terms in the White House to push for a conservative turnaround, rather than just one for which Trump would be constitutionally eligible.
“One of his arguments to us in the room is look, ‘I understand the machinery of government and if I’m eight years old I can have a profound conservative impact on this,’” the aide said. «For example, Trump doesn’t understand how to use the state or… what he’s fighting against and how to beat it.»
DeSantis raised the most money of any governor in US history during his 2022 reelection and is already set to have more outside money behind him than any other presidential primary candidate.
In recent weeks, however, some big-money donors have raised concerns about DeSantis’ possible candidacy with Trump’s rapid rise in the polls and apparent continued dominance over the Republican base. More recent, Bloomberg reported that billionaire Steve Schwarzman, chief executive of private equity firm Blackstone Group, is holding back from giving DeSantis after meeting with him in Tallahassee.
Trump’s status as a GOP frontrunner was amplified Wednesday night during a CNN town hall event at St. Anselm College in New Hampshire. Trump’s performance, while replete with lies and falsehoods, revealed the man who took over and remade the Republican Party.
Trump also brushed against DeSantis during the event.
«I think you should just relax and take it easy and think about the future, because right now your future doesn’t look good,» Trump said.
Never Back Down, the pro-DeSantis super PAC, responded.
“The same day that Ron DeSantis was attacking Joe Biden’s border crisis, Donald Trump was on CNN attacking DeSantis and lying about finishing the border wall,” Erin Perrine, the group’s communications director, said in a statement. «CNN’s town hall was, as expected, over an hour of nonsense that proved Trump is stuck in the past.»
When asked about the formidable challenge posed by Trump, Bailey, the former Trump backer turned DeSantis, told NBC News: “Trump has as solid a foundation as the rock of Gibraltar, but that rock is just a rock. You also have the rest of the group. DeSantis hasn’t even put on his shoes to run the race.»