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Divided We Stand

Divided We Stand
New book about the 2020 election.

Sunday, December 17, 2023

DeSantis Sinking

Our latest book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  The 2024 race has begun.  The DeSantis campaign has been troubled

DeSantis is struggling in Iowa and New Hampshire.

Michael Scherer, Hannah Knowles and Josh Dawsey at WP:

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis entered the Republican presidential race with an unmatched war chest and a $269 million plan to change how campaigns are usually funded.

His first campaign manager, Generra Peck, developed the strategy and selected the leadership to lead a massive new super PAC called Never Back Down. Lawyer-supervised meetings between the campaign-in-waiting and the super PAC’s team fine-tuned the mission — setting the stage for a historic paid door-knocking effort in early states.

Under campaign finance rules, the two operations could not privately coordinate most of their spending. But they aimed to function as an integrated whole — built with the candidate’s approval, advised by a single law firm, overseen by a board that included DeSantis confidants and seeded with $82.5 million that DeSantis had raised for his gubernatorial reelection. It was the first time a major campaign ceded so much of its operations to an entity it could not legally control.

With just weeks to go before the Iowa caucuses, the experiment is now in tatters. The super PAC that funded almost all of the DeSantis advertising and field programs and much of the candidate’s travel and events has been sidelined by the people that created it.

On Saturday night, about four hours after this story first published online, Jeff Roe — a key architect of Never Back Down’s strategy — joined a string of departures, announcing he was resigning and further deepening the group’s tumult. He said he “cannot in good conscience stay affiliated with Never Back Down" after the super PAC sent statements to The Washington Post suggesting the group fired officials connected to Roe’s firm over “mismanagement and conduct issues.”

Five other senior officials have left Never Back Down since late November. Three officials with Roe’s firm were fired, and the board chairman and the founding chief executive both resigned, amid internal concerns about legal compliance. A verbal conflict from inside the group’s Atlanta offices became public, as did DeSantis’s own misgivings about the outside group’s leadership. The governor and his campaign staff have been frustrated by reporting on the drama around Never Back Down and critical of the group’s ad strategy, with DeSantis’s second campaign manager, James Uthmeier, publicly instructing donors to give elsewhere for TV ads.