DeSantis PAC CEO Resigns Amid Strategy Rift

The CEO of Never Back Down, the leading super PAC championing Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s presidential aspirations, abruptly tendered his resignation this week. This surprising move comes as internal discord over campaign tactics has reached a boiling point, reflecting a potential shift in the DeSantis camp’s strategic direction.

Chris Jankowski, who has held the CEO position, announced his departure on Wednesday. His resignation underscores the growing tensions within the organization, particularly around handling campaign strategies that diverge from the traditional playbook.

Never Back Down, notable for its ability to collect limitless donations, has played a prominent role in supporting DeSantis’s bid for the White House. Its efforts have included extensive field organizing and staging events, a departure from standard campaign activities. The super PAC’s efforts have been critical, especially as DeSantis’s campaign navigated through financial constraints early on.

However, the independence of super PACs like Never Back Down comes with its own challenges, chiefly the legal prohibition on coordinating strategy with the DeSantis campaign. This has occasionally led to friction between the two entities, as each has questioned the other’s tactics.

This organizational turmoil was further complicated by the creation of a new pro-DeSantis group named Fight Right. Established in Tallahassee, this new super PAC has begun its operations by launching advertisements targeting Nikki Haley, a potential rival for DeSantis. The emergence of Fight Right seems to be a strategic pivot, distancing the negative campaigning from Never Back Down, which is closely linked to DeSantis’s public persona.

In his statement, Jankowski pointed to “untenable” conditions for achieving their collective goal of electing DeSantis as president, hinting at more than strategic disagreements. The backdrop to this departure includes a recent incident reported by NBC News, where a heated exchange during a strategy meeting highlighted the extent of the internal strife.

Kristin Davison, the chief operating officer of Never Back Down, is set to take the helm following Jankowski’s exit. The change in leadership marks a new chapter for the super PAC, which has recently paused its advertisements that directly attack Haley. Concerns had emerged that such negative campaigning was potentially harming DeSantis’s campaign.

The formation of Fight Right and Jankowski’s resignation point to a recalibration of approach within the DeSantis camp. Fight Right’s stated mission to expose politicians who veer from conservative principles seems poised to take over the mantle of aggressive campaigning, allowing Never Back Down to focus on bolstering DeSantis’s image.

This strategic realignment comes when polls suggest a tightening race, with DeSantis trailing President Donald Trump by a significant margin in Iowa and Nikki Haley making gains in early primary states. The Emerson College poll underscores the shifting dynamics, with Trump strengthening his lead nationally.

As the DeSantis campaign forges ahead, the role of super PACs in shaping the electoral narrative will undoubtedly be scrutinized. With the primary season heating up, the conservative base will be watching closely to see how these changes impact the governor’s chances of gaining ground on President Trump.