Republican Ron DeSantis ousts campaign manager amid slump in polls

By Gram Slattery and Alexandra Ulmer

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Republican U.S. presidential candidate Ron DeSantis has replaced his campaign manager, an aide said on Tuesday, as the Florida governor tries to reboot his flagging bid to overtake front-runner Donald Trump in the race for his party’s 2024 nomination.

Generra Peck, a longtime DeSantis aide, will be replaced by James Uthmeier, another close adviser, said Andrew Romeo, the campaign’s communications director.

The move comes four days after Robert Bigelow, the biggest individual donor to a group supporting the DeSantis candidacy, told Reuters he would not donate more money unless the governor changes his approach because “extremism isn’t going to get you elected.” Bigelow said he had told Peck, who he called “a very good campaign manager,” that DeSantis needed to be more moderate to have a chance.

Asked how Peck reacted, Bigelow said, laughing: “There was a long period of silence where I thought maybe she had passed out. But I think she took it all in.”

The DeSantis campaign had already made significant staff moves in July, cutting over a third of its staff and reshuffling some middle- and upper-level management.

“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,” Romeo said in a statement.

DeSantis is running second in the race for the Republican nomination to face Democratic President Joe Biden in the November 2024 election, but has been sinking in opinion polls for months. The latest Reuters/Ipsos poll put his national support at just 13%, far behind former President Trump, with 47%.

Also joining the DeSantis campaign will be David Polyansky, who had a senior role at the main outside spending group supporting DeSantis, according to one person with knowledge of the matter, speaking on condition of anonymity.

DeSantis had been facing increasing pressure from donors to change tack in recent months as he continued to drop in the polls and he burned through cash at a faster-than-expected rate.

Dan Eberhart, a prominent Republican donor, suggested that the move was still too tepid given that both Peck and Uthmeier are both simply switching from one senior campaign position to another senior campaign position.

“Governor DeSantis has to change the dynamics,” Eberhart said. “That much is clear. This is a realignment rather than a reset because both folks were already senior advisors.”

DeSantis faces a crucial moment on Aug. 23 in Milwaukee at the first Republican debate of the 2024 campaign. Trump has said he plans to skip the debate, which would make DeSantis the focus of attacks from other candidates.

(Reporting by Gram Slattery; Editing by Scott Malone and Will Dunham)

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