DeSantis Leader Steps Down

[Photo Credit: By Gage Skidmore from Surprise, AZ, United States of America - Ron DeSantis, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=121859423]

The CEO of a super political action committee aligned with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis stepped down from his post earlier in the week due to disagreements with the governor’s 2024 campaign. 

The PAC Never Back Down has been a prime source of campaigning for DeSantis, focusing mostly in Iowa, where the governor has focused his campaign in hopes of unseating Donald Trump from his frontrunner status. 

The New York Times writes

Gov. Ron DeSantis’s political orbit confronted fresh upheaval on the eve of Thanksgiving as the chief executive of the super PAC that has effectively taken over his presidential campaign resigned after days of infighting among DeSantis allies over strategy, financing and how to blunt the momentum of one of his rivals, Nikki Haley.

That chief executive, Chris Jankowski, sent a resignation note on Wednesday to the board of Never Back Down, which has been the main pro-DeSantis super PAC. The resignation was effective immediately. In a statement from Mr. Jankowski issued by the group, he described his differences with them as “well beyond a difference of strategic opinion.”

Never Back Down, which had amassed $130 million over the summer, has played a critical role in supporting Mr. DeSantis. Mr. Jankowski’s departure caps days of internal tensions within the group over the next steps in their Republican primary race against the front-runner, Donald J. Trump, and comes seven weeks before the pivotal Iowa caucuses in January.

The leaders of Never Back Down super PAC met privately last Tuesday to outline a strategy to stop fighting Nikki Haley’s rise polls, but instead ended up nearly fighting each other. 

Jeff Roe, the top consultant for the super PAC, got into a heated argument with longtime DeSantis confidant Scott Wagner during a board meeting to discuss the buget for the next two months as the first primaries quickly approach. 

“You have a stick up your a–, Scott,” Roe fumed at Wagner, who is a member of the Never Back Down board.

“Why don’t you come over here and get it?” Wagner responded, rising from his chair before being restrained by other members of the PAC. 

“The infighting represents an escalation in the long-running war between Never Back Down’s professional political operatives and DeSantis’ Tallahassee-based inner circle over who is to blame for the governor’s failure to compete effectively with front-runner Donald Trump for the Republican nomination. DeSantis’ monthslong tumble created an opening for Haley, whose surging poll numbers and newfound affection from megadonors pose an existential threat to the Florida governor’s campaign.

DeSantis and his wife, Casey, have been among those increasingly upset at Never Back Down’s leadership, according to two sources familiar with their thinking,” reports NBC News.

It’s not all bad new for DeSantis, however. Earlier in the week he received an endorsement from one of Iowa’s most significant leaders. “Influential evangelical leader Bob Vander Plaats is endorsing Ron DeSantis for president,” wrote USA Today, “a move he hopes will motivate Iowa’s Christian conservatives to rally around the Florida governor as the chief alternative to former President Donald Trump at the state’s first-in-the-nation caucuses.”

DeSantis currently remains in the second spot in polling in the Hawkeye State.

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