Nov 22, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Head of DeSantis PAC resigns as internal tensions explode

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis looks away during a Republican presidential primary debate.

Republican presidential candidate and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

The head of Never Back Down resigned after days of tensions within the pro-DeSantis super PAC, which culminated in an explosive NBC report detailing a heated confrontation between two of the Florida governor's closest allies.

Why it matters: Chris Jankowski's departure, first reported by the New York Times, is the latest example of staffing distractions derailing the little momentum that DeSantis has accumulated over the course of the GOP primary.

  • DeSantis' campaign underwent several rounds of layoffs and budget cuts over the summer, dragging out a "reset" storyline for weeks instead of carrying it out in one fell swoop.
  • That includes the firing of an aide who secretly created and shared a video that featured DeSantis at the center of an ancient symbol appropriated by the Nazis and still used by some white supremacists.

What they're saying: "Never Back Down's main goal and sole focus has been to elect Governor Ron DeSantis as President," Jankowski said in a statement to media via a spokesperson on Wednesday.

  • "Given the current environment it has become untenable for me to deliver on the shared goal and that goes well beyond a difference of strategic opinion."
  • Representatives for DeSantis did not immediately respond to Axios' request for comment.
A screenshot of a tweet by Bob Vander Plaats, saying: "Endorsing  @RonDeSantis  is familiar territory for me.   Huckabee ‘08 was suppose to get crushed by Romney. Santorum ‘12 as well. Cruz ‘16 was to get crushed by Trump.   On #Caucus night, they all won.  In Iowa, media and polls don’t pick our winner. Iowans do! "
Photo: Evangelical leader Bob Vander Plaats/X

Zoom out: Putting aside the super PAC drama, DeSantis has otherwise had a fairly strong month.

What to watch: DeSantis will take the unusual step of debating California Gov. Gavin Newsom — a Democrat who is not running for president — on Fox News on Nov. 30.

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