Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has replaced his campaign manager — a move which comes as he struggles to make gains in both national and state level surveys, finding his presidential campaign in a general state of decline.
DeSantis this week replaced campaign manager Generra Peck with James Uthmeier, the latter of whom served as his office’s chief of staff. Peck, however, is not completely ousted, remaining on the campaign as a chief strategist. The Messenger notes that Peck “quickly became the subject of criticism from DeSantis advisers and donors in mid-July after his presidential campaign stalled and money dried up.”
DeSantis’s lackluster performance in polls, as well as his campaign’s financial situation, has remained a reigning narrative for the embattled governor, who is seeking the Republican nomination for president.
In July, NBC News obtained a leaked July 6 DeSantis campaign memo labeled as a “confidential friends and family update.” In it, DeSantis’s campaign attempted to reassure donors, outlining the governor’s plans to focus primarily on Iowa, South Carolina, and New Hampshire and shove Super Tuesday states aside for the time being.
“Our focus group participants in the early states even say they don’t plan on making up their mind until they meet the candidates or watch them debate,” the memo stated, asserting the DeSantis campaign will focus on recruiting those voters and assessing that former President Donald Trump’s “floor” is 25 percent. Therefore, according to their assessment, three-fourths of Republican voters are essentially up for grabs.
It also teased more “cookout styled, backyard activities” in both the Hawkeye State and Granite State.
“From what we can tell, pro-DeSantis efforts are currently and will continue to run a robust effort in Iowa, South Carolina, and New Hampshire, that includes paid media and field,” the memo read in part.
“While Super Tuesday is critically important, we will not dedicate resources to Super Tuesday that slow our momentum in New Hampshire. We expect to revisit this investment in the Fall,” it added.
Weeks later, the DeSantis campaign laid off dozens of staff members in an attempt to streamline operations and boost the governor’s position in the polls. That move followed chatter and criticism over the composition of the DeSantis campaign’s donor base — namely, his lack of small dollar donors.
Donald Trump Jr. is among those who noted that DeSantis’s small dollar donor base is “almost non-existent, making up 15 percent of his take.”
He also told Breitbart News in July that most of the money from DeSantis’s Super PAC is coming from Jeff Roe entities, adding that the “Never Trump billionaire donor movement” is behind DeSantis’s bid.
“I think it’s pretty clear, as evidenced by the small-dollar donors — 15 percent of the entire take, right? So it’s all the billionaires, that’s who wants that because they want a president they can control,” he told Breitbart News.
WATCH — Donald Trump Jr.: Never Trump Billionaire Donor Movement Largely Behind DeSantis Bid
Jack Knudsen / Breitbart News
Despite the recent adjustments made to the campaign, donors remained unhappy. Robert Bigelow, the biggest individual donor supporting DeSantis, is among those, telling Reuters that he would withhold further support until changes were made in the campaign.
“Not until I see that he’s able to generate more on his own. I’m already too big a percentage,” Bigelow told the outlet, adding that “a lot of his donors are still on the fence.”
All the while, DeSantis has yet to perform better in the polls. A shock poll out of New Hampshire shows DeSantis dropping to the single digits, tying for second place with former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. This week’s national Morning Consult poll also shows DeSantis remaining in the teens, falling 43 points behind Trump nationally.
DeSantis’s Real Clear Politics average has also suffered, dropping from an average of 23.7 percent in June to 15.7 in early August.
— Tom Bevan (@TomBevanRCP) August 7, 2023
“He’s crashing badly,” former President Donald Trump said of DeSantis during an exclusive interview with Breitbart News’s Matthew Boyle.
“He’s got no personality,” Trump added. “He just has no personality.”
Exclusive — Trump on DeSantis: ‘He’s Crashing Badly,’ Will Be ‘Superseded’ in Second Place
Matthew Perdie / Breitbart News, Jack Knudsen / Breitbart News
Trump also attributed DeSantis’s initial victories to his endorsement.
“The only reason he won in the first place was because I endorsed him,” Trump said. “He was dead. He was down by 30 something points to Adam Putnam who was the Secretary of Agriculture. He came and asked me if I would endorse him. I didn’t know Adam Putnam and I endorsed Ron, and he went up like a rocket ship as soon as I endorsed him. But that wasn’t him going up.”
Uthmeier, DeSantis’s new campaign manager, however, remains optimistic.
“People have written Governor DeSantis’s obituary many times,” Uthmeier told The Messenger. “From his race against establishment primary candidate Adam Putnam, to his victory over legacy media-favored candidate Andrew Gillum [in 2018], to his twenty point win over Charlie Crist [in 2022], Governor DeSantis has proven that he knows how to win.”
Notably, Uthmeier did not mention the impact of the Trump endorsement in those past races.
“He’s breaking records on fundraising and has a supporting super PAC with $100 million in the bank and an incredible ground game. Get ready,” Uthmeier added.
RELATED — Jack Posobiec: DeSantis Campaign Made “Fundamental Misread of Republican Base”