The chief executive of the main super PAC for 2024 presidential candidate Gov. Ron DeSantis has stepped down, according to multiple news reports, as the Florida Republican’s campaign has struggled to gain traction.
With the first GOP caucus in Iowa now less than two months away, Chris Jankowski, the CEO of Never Back Down, announced his resignation, citing significant disagreements over the direction of DeSantis’ presidential bid.
“Never Back Down’s main goal and sole focus has been to elect Governor Ron DeSantis as President,” he wrote in a statement. “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.”
The news was first reported by The New York Times.
While super PACs are normally prohibited from working closely with presidential campaigns, Never Back Down has played a significant role in DeSantis’ bid, including by covering some of the candidate’s traveling costs, the Times added.
DeSantis has underperformed expectations for his campaign with recent polling by FiveThirtyEight showing him trailing former President Donald Trump, the front-runner in the race, and only narrowly ahead of former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who has been making gains.
Jankowski’s departure follows a tense meeting among super PAC leaders last week, first reported by NBC News, that was originally meant to address Haley’s rising popularity. Jeff Roe, a top consultant for the super PAC and Scott Wagner, an advisor for DeSantis, though, got into a shouting match, laying bare the underlying tensions between Never Back Down and the governor’s small team in Tallahassee.
DeSantis and his wife, Casey, who is also involved in his campaign, have reportedly expressed frustration at the super PAC’s leadership, two sources told the network.
Amid the ongoing turmoil, three of the governor’s allies launched a new super PAC called Fight Right. David Dewhirst, a lawyer who worked for DeSantis and was involved in creating the group, told the Times they plan to “join the fight with the premier DeSantis Super PAC, Never Back Down, to achieve a DeSantis victory.”