Ron DeSantis plans 3-day fundraising swing through Texas next week

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at a news conference at Christopher Columbus High School on March 27, 2023, in Miami. (Tns/Abaca Via Reuters Connect, Tns/Abaca Via Reuters Connect)

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Some of Texas’ biggest Republican donors are getting behind Ron DeSantis as he plans his first fundraising trip to Texas as a presidential candidate.

The Florida governor is set to visit Texas from June 7-9 for a six-city fundraising tour, according to a schedule obtained by The Texas Tribune. He will be in Midland on June 7; Fort Worth, Dallas and Houston on June 8; and The Woodlands and Austin on June 9.

It will be DeSantis’ first visit to the state since he officially launched his White House bid last week, stepping forward as the most viable Republican challenger to former President Donald Trump. DeSantis will not be the only 2024 GOP contender raising money in Texas next week, with Nikki Haley planning to make stops from June 6-8 in Midland, Houston and Dallas.

The events are drawing some of the most prolific donors in Texas GOP politics, according to invitations for some of them. And in a sign that major givers are still keeping their options open, some have lent their names to both candidates' fundraisers.

In Midland, hosts for both the DeSantis and Haley events include S. Javaid Anwar, the Midland oil mogul who has been the single biggest donor to Gov. Greg Abbott over his long political career. Abbott himself has not ruled out a 2024 campaign.

DeSantis' Midland host committee names many other titans of the oil industry in West Texas, such as Ernest Angelo, Kyle Stallings and Douglas Scharbauer.

In Dallas, the DeSantis hosts include Oklahoma oil tycoon Harold Hamm, telecommunications billionaire Kenny Troutt and car-auction billionaire Jay Adair. The host list also features Phillip Huffines, the businessman brother of Don Huffines, the former state senator who challenged Abbott in the 2022 primary. Hamm is also on the host committee for Haley's Houston fundraiser.

And in Houston, the DeSantis hosts include major names in the city’s business community, such as commercial real-estate developers Alan Hassenflu and Richard Weekley. Both are in the leadership of Texans for Lawsuit Reform, the influential tort reform group in Austin.

The Houston hosts additionally include Clive Fields, a Houston doctor who already donated $500,000 to DeSantis’ Florida political committee in March.

Some of the donors have previously been supportive of Trump. Hamm backed Trump in 2016 and 2020, and the former president even considered appointing him as energy secretary. Some of the DeSantis hosts gave at least six figures to Trump’s 2020 reelection effort, with Troutt and his wife contributing at least $1.8 million.

Tickets for the fundraisers start at $3,300 per person and go up to $13,200 per couple, with donations going toward both the primary and general elections.

The DeSantis campaign did not respond to a request for comment on the fundraisers.

The news that DeSantis would make a Texas fundraising swing next week was first reported by Puck.

Disclosure: Texans for Lawsuit Reform has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune's journalism. Find a complete list of them here.

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