DeSantis’ team spent $160M on his presidential bid in 2023

Gov. Ron DeSantis’ campaign and the political committees that supported him spent about $160 million on his failed presidential bid, new campaign finance paperwork filed Wednesday reveals.

The sum is indicative of just how much money DeSantis’ team, and his once-hopeful donors, exhausted in their bid to elevate Florida’s governor to the White House. That his backers were willing to spend this much on DeSantis reflected how high their expectations were for DeSantis at the beginning of the race.

The figure is a slight undercount, because it includes spending in the roughly seven months DeSantis was an official presidential candidate in 2023 — late May through December — plus some additional expenses incurred by the primary pro-DeSantis super PAC, Never Back Down, starting in March. The filings don’t show spending in the two weeks leading to the caucuses in Iowa, the first and last state DeSantis would compete in before ending his campaign on Jan. 21.

Still, the new filings offer the clearest picture yet of the financial health of DeSantis’ operation. He made the decision to drop out in part because his team recognized how much more funding would be required to continue the uphill battle against former President Donald Trump.

Never Back Down took in more than $130 million in the first half of 2023 — more than half transferred from DeSantis’ Florida political committee — and started July with nearly $97 million in cash on hand. But it added just $14 million in contributions over the next six months. By the end of the year, the super PAC had $14.5 million left. That’s far less than what it had spent just on its messaging efforts and merch in Iowa.

This is a breaking story. Check back for updates.

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