TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s inauguration celebration is expected to be spread out over two days — and will give up close access to donors willing to contribute between $50,000 and $1 million, according to a breakdown of sponsorship packages.
Five donors who give $1 million to the Republican Party of Florida will be recognized as “inaugural chair” sponsors who will receive tickets to a candlelight dinner the night before the inauguration, VIP seating at the inauguration ceremony held on the steps of the Old Capitol as well tickets to the inaugural ball and a “Toast to One Million Mamas,” the campaign group put together by first lady Casey DeSantis, and a photo opportunity with the governor.
Other packages — which range in size from $500,000 all the way down to $25,000 — also give access to many of the same events but donors won’t receive as many tickets.
DeSantis’ next term starts on Jan. 3 and Florida’s governors are traditionally sworn in at noon on that day. The inauguration will give DeSantis an opportunity to demonstrate his fundraising prowess as well as his status as the lead Republican alternative to former President Donald Trump, who has already declared that he’s running for president.
DeSantis, who saw his Republican star status rise due to his handling of Covid-19 pandemic policies and clashes with corporate titans such as Disney, raised more than $200 million during the 2022 election cycle from both big- and small-dollar donors, a massive sum that positions him for a 2024 run. He had more than $60 million left unspent, according to campaign reports filed last month.
DeSantis crushed his 2022 challenger Democrat Charlie Crist by roughly 20 points in the November election and is now seen as a likely GOP presidential candidate, especially after Florida Republicans swept many races during the last election cycle and outperformed the GOP nationwide. DeSantis is not expected to formally announce his candidacy until after the regular session of the Florida Legislature.
But once DeSantis becomes a federal candidate, his ability to raise large amounts for Republicans in his home state will be limited, meaning that the inauguration celebration may be one of the last big events where he can help send money to the state party. Florida doesn’t limit how much can be given to the state party and state political committee, nor does it bar donations from corporations.
DeSantis held two days of events during his 2017 inauguration, which also included an appreciation event for military veterans and first responders as well as a legislative luncheon that was held at the Florida Capitol outside the main entrance to the House and Senate chambers.
The list of events held in 2017 and in early 2023 are not quite as extensive as those held by previous Florida governors. Former Gov. Rick Scott in 2011 held an inauguration parade as well as an open house at the governor’s mansion. He brought back the inaugural ball — after it was scrapped in 2007 by incoming Gov. Charlie Crist due to the economic crisis at the time. Scott, four years later, held a six-city Jobs Jamboree that featured barbecues ahead of his second inauguration.