DemDaily: GOP Field Files First Fundraising Numbers

April 18, 2023

Finance reports for the GOP presidential candidates' first quarter of 2023 came out this week, providing a glimpse at the early fundraising prowess of those vying for the nomination to challenge President Joe Biden.

It is not surprising that former President Donald Trump came out on top, having raised more than $14.5 million over the first three months of the year. The impetus, however, is on the rest of the field, as his defacto challengers, to prove they can compete on his level.

In the early stages of the race for the White House, fundraising is the most credible way to gauge the viability of a candidate, particularly in a crowded field. In addition to a candidate's ability to tap into small-dollar donors nationwide, securing the early support of major party donors also sends a message that can dissuade others from entering the race.

Every presidential candidate is required to register with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) and file regular financial reports detailing their fundraising and campaign spending. During non-presidential election years, candidates are required to file quarterly reports. During presidential election years, they must file monthly.

Trump reported raising $3.8 million between November 15, 2022 -- the date he announced his candidacy -- and the end of last year, and $14.5 million in the first quarter of 2023, for a total of $18.3 million amased for his main campaign account, Donald J. Trump for President 2024. An additional $4.4 was raised through Trump Save America, a joint fundraising committee, for a total of $22.7 million.

None of that takes into account Trump's other political vehicles, like the group Save America, which raised $109 million in 2022 - but is unrelated to his presidential campaign.

Trump, who was indicted March 31 by a Manhattan grand jury of 34 felony counts of falsifying business records in a hush money scheme related to his 2020 presidential campaign, has successfully exploited his legal troubles to motivate his fundraising base and supporters. According to his campaign, donations spiked since the indictment, with an additional $15.4 million in receipts since the beginning of April.

Former UN Secretary and former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, who entered the presidential race February 14, initially claimed in a press release to have raised more than $11 million in the first six weeks. Her official filings with the FEC, however, show that the campaign appears to have double-counted money routed among Haley’s three fundraising committees. Of the actual total of $8.3 million raised, $5.13 was to her main campaign committee, Stand for America.

Conservative author and entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, who entered the race February 21, reported raising $11.4 million through March 31, including a $10.25 million loan to his campaign.

Update on the Field
Former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson announced his intention to run April 2, and South Carolina Senator Tim Scott announced his exploratory committee April 12, a common practice for those "testing the waters" in advance of formally entering the race.

Under FEC rules, Scott can transfer funds from his federal Senate account, which has a current balance of $22 million, to his federal presidential account - which would instantly give him an advantage in the fundraising game.

Among the likely but undeclared GOP candidates is Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, currently considered Trump's most formidable opponent. DeSantis has an astounding $85.8 million in the bank from his 2022 gubernatorial reelection campaign, but is prohibited under federal law from transferring money from his state campaign directly to a presidential campaign committee.

Due to a loophole recently upheld by Republican appointees at the FEC, however, DeSantis has the ability to transfer that sum from his state political committee to a federal super PAC which may then benefit his presidential run through certain non-coordinated activities.

Separately, Never Back Down, a federal super PAC that supports DeSantis' run, reported raising $30 million since it launched last month.

Former Vice President Mike Pence has yet to announce, but has been building an unofficial campaign structure and fundraising base through Advancing American Freedom, a 501c4 issue advocacy nonprofit he founded, as well as his PAC, Great America Committee.

New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu in February launched a 501(c)(4) nonprofit called Live Free or Die, which allows him to raise unlimited funds "to talk about the model that [is] New Hampshire.”

Who is Out
Former Trump Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced last Friday that he had "prayerfully come to the conclusion" that he was not going to enter the 2024 presidential contest.

Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin appears to have put his national aspirations on hold as well, telling advisers and donors last week that he is "wholly focused on the Commonwealth of Virginia" and the legislative elections in the fall.

DemList will keep you informed.

DemDaily: With Intent to Defraud and Conceal 4/4/23
DemDaily: Indictment Divides Expanding GOP Field 4/3/23
DemDaily: Indicted 3/31/23
DemDaily: The Trials of Trump 3/20/23
DemDaily: CPAC Kowtows to Trump 3/6/23
DemDaily: Liars and Deniers 3/3/23
DemDaily: Red State, Blue State 2/27/23
DemDaily: The Contenders. The GOP Field Takes Shape 2/21/23

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Kimberly Scott

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Sources: AP, Politico, The Hill, New York Times, CNN, FEC, NBC, Ballotpedia

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