A committee of some of Jacksonville’s most committed conservatives are hosting a $500-per-person fundraising reception Wednesday evening for Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis.

Set at the San Marco home of Gayle and Michael Balanky, the reception is the first major “finance event” in Duval County for DeSantis, who polls have currently running a close second in the GOP primary to Adam Putnam.

Nearly 60 DeSantis supporters have accepted the “Ron DeSantis For Governor” invitation. The event is now closed to further participation.

Committee member Nancy Peek McGowan told Sunshine State News members of the 22-member host committee “are known to support fiscal, pro-life and other social conservative policies, and tend to be strict Constitutionalists, particularly concerned with limited government, a strong U.S. military, religious liberty and upholding the rule of law.”

Many of the committee members were early supporters of Marco Rubio for U.S. Senate in the primary against Charlie Crist, McGowan said. Also, most backed DeSantis in the primary in his first run for Congress, when he defeated five other candidates, including the sitting City Council president in Jacksonville. 

McGowan claims these donors would not be supporting a Washington insider or Republican establishment candidate in Florida — including in a national race — “unless there were no options in the Republican primary.”

DeSantis has been endorsed in the Florida governor’s race by President Donald Trump, Fox News’ Sean Hannity and conservative radio talk show host and author Mark Levin.

Host committee members include the Balankys, Dr. Scott Ackerman, Brooke and Fernando Acosta-Rua, Daniel Bean, W.W. “Bill” Gay, Dr. Javier Garcia-Bengochea, Julie and Joseph Jacquot, Mary Pat and Dave Kulik, McGowan and her husband Ted, Debra and Steve Vining, Patricia and Fitzhugh Powell Jr., Carol and Robert Shircliff, Kent Stermon, and Glory and Thomas Sullivan.

Besides Agriculture Commissioner Putnam, Palm Coast’s DeSantis — who so far in the race has focused mainly on national issues — is facing former Sen. Jack Latvala and likely candidate Richard Corcoran, speaker of the Florida House.

Reach Nancy Smith at nsmith@sunshinestatenews.com or at 228-282-2423. Twitter: @NancyLBSmith

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