Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is expected to officially enter the presidential race next week, raising the massive sums of money he needs to challenge former President Donald J. Trump, according to two people involved with his intentions are familiar.
Mr. DeSantis is expected to file declarations of his candidacy with the Federal Elections Commission, which will serve as evidence of his financial strength, prior to a major fundraising meeting with donors in Miami on May 25. He must officially enter the race before he can raise funds for his presidential campaign.
He is also likely to release a video to coincide with his official start of the race, and according to one of the people, there will be a series of events happening in the first nomination states in the coming weeks, according to one of the interviewees. The Wall Street Journal initially reported that Mr. DeSantis would file the filings next week.
Mr. Trump is about 30 percentage points ahead of Mr. DeSantis on the national poll average, but the Florida governor would be the most credible Republican challenger to join the field so far.
He’ll probably start out in an outside group with more money than any other Republican primary candidate in history. More than $80 million is expected to be transferred from his state account to his super PAC Never Back Down, which has also raised more than $30 million, in addition to tens of millions more in donor pledges trusted by him People report fundraising.
Mr. DeSantis also has a long line of conservative political victories, culminating in his overwhelming re-election last year through Florida’s Republican-dominated legislature. And he’s garnered a wide array of support from the Iowa and New Hampshire state legislatures, who can influence primary elections, as well as those in his own state.
Still, it’s a big challenge to face Mr. Trump, who Republicans allied behind after his impeachment in New York. While the former president attacks him daily, Mr. DeSantis has to perform a delicate dance.
To win, he must appeal to the vast number of Republican primary voters who like Mr. Trump but may be willing to replace a candidate who lost in 2020 and continues to make false claims about that election. This requires Mr. DeSantis to differentiate himself from Mr. Trump without criticizing him so aggressively that he risks offending pro-Trump voters.
Mr. DeSantis appeared to successfully walk that path during a weekend trip to Iowa, part of a month-long series of political events he attended across the country in the run-up to his announcement.
On Saturday, a grinning Mr. DeSantis introduced Mr. Trump to an unexpected appearance in Des Moines, not far from where the former president canceled a rally that night due to possible inclement weather. “It’s a beautiful night,” the governor said, apparently joking about the lack of storms.
It is still unclear where and when Mr. DeSantis plans to hold a formal rally to announce his candidacy.