DeSantis Replaces Campaign Manager in Shakeup

DeSantis Replaces Campaign Manager in Shakeup
Republican presidential candidate Florida Governor Ron DeSantis Speaks to guests at Ashley's BBQ Bash hosted by Congresswoman Ashley Hinson (R-IA) in Cedar Rapids, Iowa on Aug. 6, 2023. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

In a third major reshuffling, 2024 hopeful Ron Desantis has replaced his campaign manager Generra Peck amid a lukewarm campaign performance and threats by donors to cut off funding.

James Uthmeier, who served as chief of staff in Mr. DeSantis’ governor’s office, will be taking over, according to the announcement Tuesday. Ms. Peck will handle the duties of chief strategist moving forward.

“James Uthmeier has been one of Governor DeSantis’ top advisors for years and he is needed where it matters most: working hand in hand with Generra Peck and the rest of the team to put the governor in the best possible position to win this primary and defeat Joe Biden,” said Andrew Romeo, DeSantis’s communications director.

The DeSantis campaign had, in late July, slashed around two dozen jobs due to financial concerns.

Fingers pointed toward Ms. Peck as she bore the brunt of poor performance. Donors began to waver with the biggest individual donor, hotel entrepreneur Robert Bigelow, threatening to cut off donations if there isn’t a change in strategy. Mr. Bigelow called for Mr. DeSantis to return to a more moderate position.

“He does need to shift to get to moderates. He’ll lose if he doesn’t … Extremism isn’t going to get you elected,” Mr. Bigelow said during an interview with Reuters, adding the point of contention was Mr. DeSantis’ six-week abortion ban.

Besides bringing in Mr. Uthmeier, the campaign is also adding David Polyansky—who previously served as chief of staff for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas)—to the campaign staff. Mr. Polyansky was most recently an adviser at the pro-DeSantis super PAC Never Back Down.

“David Polyansky will also be a critical addition to the team given his presidential campaign experience in Iowa and work at Never Back Down. We are excited about these additions as we continue to spread the governor’s message across the country. It’s time to reverse our nation’s decline and revive America’s future,” Mr. Romeo said to The Hill.

DeSantis Campaign ‘Reload?’

The latest reshuffle is being referred to as a “reload” within the DeSantis campaign, according to The Messenger.

“People have written Governor DeSantis’s obituary many times,” Mr. Uthmeier said to the outlet. “From his race against establishment primary candidate Adam Putnam, to his victory over legacy media-favored candidate Andrew Gillum [in 2018], to his twenty point win over Charlie Crist [in 2022], Governor DeSantis has proven that he knows how to win. He’s breaking records on fundraising and has a supporting super PAC with $100 million in the bank and an incredible ground game. Get ready.”

Alex Kelley, who is presently Florida’s Secretary of Commerce, will replace Mr. Uthmeier in the governor’s office.

Following criticisms from donors, Ms. Peck offered to resign in July.

As for campaign finances, Mr. DeSantis’s campaign and Never Back Down had a combined $109 million in the bank at the end of June, which is well above the combined $53 million of Mr. Trump’s campaign and his allied super PAC, known as MAGA Inc., according to financial disclosures to the Federal Elections Commission.

However, the high cash burn rate has invited scrutiny on how the campaign is being run. Never Back Down has spent around $34 million in recent months.

Because of lackluster performance, the campaign has let go of 38 employees, or over one-third of staff in the last couple of weeks.

Unlike Mr. Trump’s campaign donations, Mr. DeSantis has most donations pouring in from big donors. Mr. Trump had more small ticket donors.

DeSantis donors are displaying increasing hesitation as the governor has not been able to close the lead with the former president.

The latest Reuters/Ipsos poll showed he had slumped to 13 percent of support among Republicans against 47 percent for Mr. Trump.

Mr. DeSantis shrugged off the poll results as “narrative.”

“These are narratives. The media doesn’t want me to be the nominee. I think that’s very, very clear. Why? Because they know I’ll beat Biden. But even more importantly they know I will actually deliver on all these things.

“We will stop the invasion at the border, we’ll take on the drug cartels, we’ll curtail the administrative state, we’ll get spending under control. We’ll do all the things that they don’t want to see done,” he said during an interview with Fox News in early July.

From The Epoch Times

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