The CEO of “Never Back Down,” the most prominent super PAC backing Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis’ run for president, has resigned amid turmoil between the PAC and leadership in the DeSantis campaign.
“Never Back Down’s main goal and sole focus has been to elect Governor Ron DeSantis as President,” CEO Chris Jankowski said in a statement. “Given the current environment, it has become untenable for me to deliver on the shared goal and that goes well beyond a difference of strategic opinion. For the future of the country, I support and pray Ron DeSantis is our 47th president.”
Chris Jankowski, the CEO of the main super PAC backing Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' presidential run, has resigned. https://t.co/oHY831Y8bp
— CBS News (@CBSNews) November 23, 2023
The turmoil between the PAC and the campaign has focused, most recently, on attack ads run against former U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley in Iowa. According to polling, those ads backfired and actually increased support for Haley in the state.
“The governor is riding around Iowa on a bus that says ‘Never Back Down,’” said one Republican consultant. “It would be political malpractice to have the same group running attack ads.”
Jankowski’s resignation comes as the DeSantis campaign continues to stall and has not only lost ground to former president Trump but is also beginning to fall behind Haley in some polls.
According to the New York Post, “Haley has vaulted past DeSantis in two early primary states, polling ahead of the Sunshine State governor by 11 points in New Hampshire and by more than 8 points in South Carolina, according to a RealClearPolitics average of surveys.”
In the meantime, some DeSantis allies created a new Tallahassee-based nonprofit and affiliated super PAC called “Fight Right.” The new organization has already begun running ads against Haley seemingly taking the place of “Never Back Down.”
Federal election laws prohibit direct coordination between a super PAC and a campaign, but super PACs have been prominent in the political landscape for a long time. There are no limits to the amount of fundraising they can do and they are powerful weapons in funding television and other media ads.
A spokesperson for DeSantis said, “We’ve already seen tremendous value in the support of groups like Never Back Down, and adding new allies to the mix to independently help spread the Governor’s message will only strengthen our advantage in the important weeks and months ahead.”