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Tuesday, August 08, 2023
ANNALS OF DeSANTISTAN: Ron DeSantis replaces campaign manager as he struggles to gain on Trump (WaPo)
Latest news from fifteen (15) minutes ago. Is the DeSANTIS campaign floundering? You tell me.
From The Washington Post:
Ron DeSantis replaces campaign manager as he struggles to gain on Trump
The change comes amid a rough stretch of layoffs and budget woes as the Florida governor fails to make headway in the polls
Updated August 8, 2023 at 12:07 p.m. EDT|Published August 8, 2023 at 11:21 a.m. EDT
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Ron DeSantis is replacing his presidential campaign manager and making other changes to his senior staff after a rough stretch of layoffs, budget woes and struggles to make headway against the front-runner for the Republican nomination, former president Donald Trump.
James Uthmeier, DeSantis’s chief of staff in the Florida governor’s office, will replace Generra Peck, who oversaw DeSantis’s blowout reelection last fall but came under fire as the campaign shed more than a third of its staff amid a cash crunch and, in the view of some allies, made unforced errors. Peck will become the campaign’s chief strategist. The changes, first reported by the Messenger, were confirmed by campaign officials, including spokesman Bryan Griffin.
David Polyansky, previously an adviser to the pro-DeSantis super PAC Never Back Down, will become deputy campaign manager, officials said, while Ryan Tyson — a senior adviser who also worked on DeSantis’s gubernatorial reelection — and Florida operative Marc Reichelderfer will take on elevated roles.
These moves are the latest of many shake-ups for a candidate who began the year with sky-high expectations, widely considered Trump’s most formidable rival, but who has lost ground in national and statewide polling. An official launch in late May did not turn things around. As the campaign cut staff in two rounds last month, advisers declared that the campaign was undergoing a “reset” that would involve reducing event and travel costs and leaning into an “underdog” mentality.
Many staffers and allies believed Peck’s job to be safe despite the turmoil.She was one of two people — along with the governor’s wife, Casey DeSantis — whom the governor thanked by name in his victory speech last fall, as he won reelection by nearly 20 points.
But some donors and allies pushed for a change at the top as the campaign’s troubles deepened this summer. The governor recently asked Uthmeier, who had already been helping the campaign fundraise, to assess the operation’s problems, officials said.
Some DeSantis allies have long suggested that DeSantis needed to bring more operatives experienced in presidential campaigns. In replacing Peck with Uthmeier, DeSantis is elevating another loyal aide from his insular circle rather than a veteran of presidential politics.
But Polyansky, a former chief of staff to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), has held senior roles with several presidential campaigns, including Cruz’s 2016 bid. He is moving from the super PAC to the campaign as the PAC hosts more of DeSantis’s events, expanding on its already unusually large role in the governor’s bid.
Digital director Ethan Eilon also recently became deputy chief of staff.
Uthmeier joined the governor’s office in 2019 as deputy general counsel and became chief of staff in October 2021. Before that, he worked as a lawyer in Washington and served in the Trump administration as an adviser to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.
“James Uthmeier has been one of Governor DeSantis’ top advisers 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,” said campaign communications director Andrew Romeo said in a statement that also called David Polyansky “a critical addition to the team given his presidential campaign experience in Iowa and work at Never Back Down.”
Alex Kelly, Florida’s commerce secretary, will replace Uthmeier as chief of staff in the governor’s office.
Marianne Levine and Lori Rozsa contributed to this report.