Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has replaced his presidential campaign manager, switching her out for his gubernatorial office’s chief of staff amid a shake-up aimed at reinvigorating his faltering White House bid.
The outgoing campaign manager, Generra Peck, will stay on as senior adviser, while chief of staff James Uthmeier takes the reins. The news was first reported by The Messenger.
The campaign confirmed the reports in a statement to HuffPost.
“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,” wrote communications director Andrew Romeo. “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.”
The move comes on the heels of the campaign shedding more than a third of its staffers in recent weeks due to fundraising setbacks. The DeSantis campaign, launched in late May, is already undergoing a “reset” aimed at juicing the governor’s polling numbers. It has promised a leaner operation with smaller events and more access for mainstream news outlets.
DeSantis, though, is still stuck in second place nationally behind Republican rival Donald Trump, who appears to have only consolidated support in the race following his indictments. But DeSantis’ backing is growing in Iowa, the first state on the presidential nominating calendar. The governor’s team is betting that a sweep of the early voting states will give him the momentum to beat Trump and a dozen others in the GOP presidential primary.
The 35-year-old Uthmeier has been the governor’s top adviser in Tallahassee since 2021. The campaign also gave the role of deputy campaign manager to David Polyansky, a veteran Iowa political operative and adviser to a pro-DeSantis super PAC called Never Back Down, at a crucial juncture in the election cycle.
“They should have done this a month ago,” one major DeSantis donor who is familiar with the inner workings of the campaign said on condition of anonymity.
The donor acknowledged that DeSantis is replacing one manager without prior campaign experience with another, and hoping for a better result.
“He knows him, he trusts him,” the donor said, adding that Uthmeier understands that the campaign going forward will need to be smaller and more efficient. “The campaign’s going to have to be really lean ... [Uthmeier’s] frugal. He can run an organization.”
DeSantis is set to appear this weekend at the Iowa State Fair, one of the season’s biggest presidential cattle calls, ahead of the first GOP primary debate later this month.