Florida Governor and presidential hopeful Ron DeSantis is hitting back-to-back events in New England this weekend, according to copies of the invitations obtained by the Globe.
On Saturday, the Republican will visit Massachusetts for what insiders believe to be the first time. He will travel to Cotuit, where a bevy of local Republican donors are hosting a lunchtime fund-raiser with tickets running at $3,300 a piece.
State GOP chair Amy Carnavale, who will attend the fund-raiser, said organizers expect it to be “an extremely successful event.”
On Sunday, DeSantis will travel north for what is billed as a “No B.S. BBQ” in Rye, N.H., hosted in his honor by former US senator Scott Brown and his wife, Gail. Brown served as ambassador to New Zealand under former president Donald Trump, who is leading the GOP pack and thus is DeSantis’s top rival. The invitation did not include a suggested donation or ticket price.
The events come at a much-needed time for the presidential contender, who has reportedly had to slash campaign staff to cut costs amid concerns over his campaign’s finances.
What New England lacks in Republican voters it makes up for in other valuable assets, like its deep pockets and large media market, and important connections for someone such as DeSantis, who has struggled to gain traction in his early months as a candidate.
The governor’s visit won’t be his first fund-raising foray to New England.
He has made several visits to New Hampshire. In April, he sold out the state GOP’s biggest annual fund-raising dinner. More recently, he ruffled some feathers when he hosted a fund-raising event at the same time as a luncheon attended by Trump.
Last month he tweeted that it was “great to be back in New Hampshire where people are ready to defeat Joe Biden and get the country going in the right direction.”
In Massachusetts, prominent conservative donor and auto-parts magnate Rick Green donated $13,200 to the campaign in June, records show.
Politico has also reported that the campaign counts the state Republican Party’s vice chair Jay Fleitman and state committeewoman Mary Lou Stuart among its volunteers who are helping court supporters in Massachusetts.
The upcoming event in Cotuit is hosted by a list of Republicans who have long backed GOP candidates in state races. Among them is Brian Shortsleeve, who served as general manager for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority under former governor Charlie Baker and donated $6,600 to DeSantis in the spring, according to federal campaign finance records.
Other cohosts include prominent developer and chair of the Baker-aligned Massachusetts Majority super PAC Gregg Lisciotti, former Texas congressman Lamar Smith, and former ambassador to the Paris-based Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development Chris Egan.
The upcoming events have drawn some criticism by Democrats, who were quick to point out that Cotuit, where the Saturday fund-raiser will be held, is just over 16 miles from Edgartown, the Martha’s Vineyard community where DeSantis sent planeloads of unknowing migrants last year, prompting potential criminal charges.
In a tweet Tuesday, state Representative Dylan Fernandes, a Falmouth Democrat who represents Edgartown, said the event is “a waste of money.”
“He is a coward who bullies people weaker than him and he will never be president,” Fernandes said.