The Costly Presidential Bid of Governor Ron DeSantis: A Closer Look at $160 Million Campaign Expenditures

Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida made headlines recently for his failed presidential bid, which cost a staggering $160 million. This astronomical sum makes DeSantis’s campaign one of the most expensive in modern Republican primary elections.[0] The details of where the money went were revealed in campaign finance paperwork filed on Wednesday.[1]

DeSantis’ team spent a significant amount of money on his presidential bid in 2023, highlighting the high expectations they had at the beginning of the race. The campaign and the political committees that supported him spent approximately $160 million, as stated in the campaign finance paperwork. This includes donations to several members of Congress who endorsed DeSantis’s bid for president.[2]

Among the payouts was $6,600 to the committee for GOP Representative Chip Roy of Texas, who frequently traveled with DeSantis on the campaign trail in Iowa and acted as a surrogate before the media.[3] The same amount was given to U.S. Representative Laurel Lee, the only member of the Florida GOP congressional delegation to endorse DeSantis.[3] Another $5,000 went to the committee for Republican Representative Bob Good of Virginia.[3]

Comparatively, former President Donald Trump’s campaign and super PACs spent $210 million in 2023, significantly more than DeSantis’s expenditures.[4] However, it is important to note that Trump had been a candidate for a much longer period of time, having launched his 2024 bid for president in November 2022.[5]

A major contributor to DeSantis’s campaign was the super PAC Never Back Down, which spent a whopping $131 million in 2023.[2] This amount was more than four times the $28.2 million spent by the DeSantis campaign itself.[2] Never Back Down received significant funds from a state-level committee that had previously raised money for DeSantis’s 2022 reelection campaign, contributing over $80 million to the super PAC.[6]

Interestingly, DeSantis’s campaign spending reveals a significant amount allocated to travel expenses. While a large portion of the travel spending went towards standard costs such as hotels, car rentals, and commercial airlines, more than half of the campaign’s travel spending, nearly $457,000, was paid to TMFB Management Services, a business travel company owned by Craig Mateer, a campaign donor who DeSantis had previously appointed to the State University System’s Board of Governors.[7]

The campaign filings also showed that DeSantis had $9.7 million in his campaign account as of the end of December, just before he dropped out of the race following a second-place showing in the Iowa caucuses.[2] This suggests that DeSantis’s campaign was on the brink of financial ruin in the weeks leading up to his withdrawal, with limited funds and low quarterly fundraising numbers.

In addition, DeSantis’s campaign spending was compared to the number of votes he received in the Iowa caucus, resulting in a cost of over $7,000 per vote.[1] This figure highlights the extravagant spending of DeSantis and his allies, who spent approximately $170 million on his presidential bid.

The campaign finance paperwork also revealed transfers of funds between various PACs associated with DeSantis. For example, Never Back Down and DeSantis’s leadership PAC, Great American Comeback, redirected resources to another super PAC called Fight Right, which was formed in November by several DeSantis allies.[7] Fight Right received $9.6 million in transfers from Never Back Down and $2 million from DeSantis’s leadership PAC.[7]

Furthermore, a significant portion of the funds raised by DeSantis’s campaign was designated for the general election and could not be used during the primary.[3] This means that despite the significant financial investment in the race, DeSantis had limited funds available for the primary campaign.

One intriguing revelation from the campaign finance paperwork was the payments made by Never Back Down to Win It Back PAC, a group running ads against former President Donald Trump. Win It Back PAC received over $2.7 million from Never Back Down but ultimately stopped its anti-Trump advertising efforts due to their limited impact on Trump’s standing.

In conclusion, Governor Ron DeSantis’s failed presidential bid cost an astonishing $160 million, making it one of the most expensive campaigns in recent Republican primary elections. The details of his campaign spending reveal a significant allocation of funds to various aspects, including travel expenses and contributions to members of Congress who endorsed his bid. Despite the high expenditure, DeSantis faced financial challenges towards the end of his campaign, with limited funds and low quarterly fundraising numbers. Ultimately, DeSantis dropped out of the race before the New Hampshire primary, marking the end of his presidential aspirations.[7]

0. “Ron DeSantis Wasted Over $160 Million Failing to Stop Trump” New York Magazine, 1 Feb. 2024,

1. “Guess How Much Ron DeSantis’ Campaign Spent on Each Iowa Vote” Jezebel, 1 Feb. 2024,

2. “New reports detail how DeSantis outsourced his campaign to a super PAC” NBC News, 31 Jan. 2024,

3. “Super PAC supporting DeSantis spent $130 million on travel, consulting and canvassing” POLITICO, 1 Feb. 2024,

4. “DeSantis’ presidential campaign cost $160 million” Axios, 2 Feb. 2024,

5. “DeSantis’ campaign money was drying up. New filings show how fast.” Tampa Bay Times, 1 Feb. 2024,

6. “DeSantis couldn’t hold donors’ interest as his campaign and allies spent $150 million” Miami Herald, 1 Feb. 2024,

7. “4 ways DeSantis and his allies burned through $160 million” Miami Herald, 1 Feb. 2024,

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