Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida began cutting campaign staff just months into his presidential bid as he struggled to gain ground in the Republican primary and lost ground in some public polls. against former President Donald Trump.
The exact number of people fired by Team DeSantis was unclear, but a campaign aide said it was less than 10. The development was reported earlier by Politico.
The layoffs are a worrying sign for the campaign and also underscore the challenges DeSantis faces with both his fundraising and his spending, at a time when a number of major donors who had expressed an interest in him have expressed concern. of his performance.
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An aide, Andrew Romeo, described the circumstances of the campaign in an optimistic tone.
“Americans are rallying behind Ron DeSantis and his plan to reverse the failures of Joe Biden and restore sanity to our nation, and his momentum will only continue as voters see more of him in person, especially in the Iowa,” he said in a statement. “Defeating Joe Biden and the $72 million behind him will require an agile, candidate-driven campaign, and we’re building a movement to see it through.”
The race is still in its early stages, and past campaigns have been reshuffled in the months before voting begins. Former Senator John McCain blew up his campaign in the summer of 2007 before winning the Republican nomination. Trump went through three iterations in his successful bid, though none came in the primary races. Several of DeSantis’ top fundraisers have said the Florida governor is in it for the long haul, with a focus on upcoming debates and contests that begin in January.
But DeSantis’ moves come exceptionally early. And the fundraising figures – filed on Saturday – show a campaign that will need to make several adjustments, including to the travel schedule and the size of staff, if it plans to catch up with the lost momentum that has started to fade from the past. months before DeSantis officially entered the race.
The DeSantis campaign should also make other changes, according to aides. Political speeches are planned, along with interviews with the kind of media he has widely derided, starting this week, according to two people familiar with the strategy.
DeSantis’ struggles seem to be not just about the numbers, but about the campaign message as well. Late last week, two of DeSantis’ top advisers, Dave Abrams and Tucker Obenshain, announced their departure to join an outside group supporting DeSantis.
DeSantis’ campaign finance disclosure to the Federal Election Commission shows he raised about $20 million, but spent nearly $8 million, a so-called consumption rate that doesn’t tell him. leaves only $12 million in cash. Only about $9 million of that money can be spent on the primary, with the rest counting towards the general election if he is the candidate.
The filing indicated a surprisingly large staff for a campaign so early in a bid, especially for a campaign with a super political action committee that has shown just how much load it is willing to handle. Over $1 million in expenses were listed as “payroll” and payroll processing.
DeSantis’ major expenses included $1.3 million for travel, including private jet rental services. The campaign also spent more than $800,000 each on digital fundraising consulting, media placement and postage. The campaign also donated nearly $1 million to WinRed, the online donation processing company.
Recent Republican primary races have been littered with examples of candidates with an early sizzle followed by significant struggles. Scott Walker, who was governor of Wisconsin, left the presidential race in September 2015 as he racked up debt. Jeb Bush, one of DeSantis’ predecessors as Florida governor and perhaps the biggest draw of 2016 campaign donors, also began losing payrolls amid the struggles, though far more late in the race.
Still, DeSantis allies note he’s further ahead in the polls in Iowa than Bush was in the fall of 2015 and has a more natural constituency in Iowa than other challengers. The caucuses will be held on January 15, 2024, and that’s the state where candidates looking to blunt Trump must do well.
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