Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) should be experiencing a positive momentum following a successful debate against California Governor Gavin Newsom (D). However, the GOP presidential hopeful is once again confronted with campaign turmoil as several individuals have left their post.
The Never Back Down PAC played a significant role in DeSantis’ campaign. However, the strain between the PAC and the campaign, restricted by legal regulations from coordinating, has cast a shadow over the governor’s presidential bid.
Towards the end of November, Chris Jankowski, the CEO of the super PAC, resigned. This decision followed a sequence of negative ads targeting former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, which were run by the PAC and negatively impacted DeSantis’ standing in the polls.
Following the airing of the ads, there was a heated argument between Jeff Roe, a strategist affiliated with Never Back Down, and supporter Scott Wagner at the PAC’s Atlanta headquarters. Four days following Jankowski’s departure, Adam Laxalt, the former Attorney General of Nevada, stepped down from his role as the chairman of the board for Never Back Down. Currently, a mere six weeks away from the Iowa Caucuses, the recently appointed CEO of the super PAC has been dismissed.
Kristin Davison assumed the role of CEO only nine days before her termination. According to POLITICO, her dismissal was attributed to unspecified management and personnel issues. Additionally, Never Back Down spokesperson Erin Perrine and another PAC official, Matthew Palmisano, were also let go. Wagner has been designated as the temporary CEO and chairman of the board.
DeSantis is lagging behind former President Donald Trump by over 46%, as per the FiveThirtyEight polling average. In Florida, a state where DeSantis secured reelection with the most substantial margin in years, Trump holds a 36% lead over him. In Iowa, Trump is leading by almost 30%.
The Florida governor was previously seen as the individual capable of defeating the former president. He attempted to present himself as a version of Trump without the associated 91 felony counts or controversies.
Nevertheless, due to a series of missteps such as a delayed entry into the race, internal conflicts between his campaign and PAC, and various other issues, DeSantis’ campaign is facing significant challenges. The current concern is whether he can reverse this downward trend.