Florida’s governor reportedly laid off fewer than 10 full-time employees late last week to cut operating costs.
FLORIDA, USA. GOP presidential candidate Ron DeSantis is downsizing his campaign staff as he struggles to trap former President Donald Trump in a crowded GOP primary while facing unexpected financial pressure.
DeSantis, the Florida governor, fired fewer than 10 paid employees late last week to help cut operating costs, according to a DeSantis aide who asked to remain anonymous to discuss internal campaign strategy. Employees have been involved in event planning and may soon join the supercomputing committee of DeSantis supporters.
The moves, first reported by Politico, come as DeSantis struggles to live up to expectations that he represents the strongest alternative to Trump in the Republican Party. The Florida governor’s political organization has raised more money than other Republicans running for the 2024 nomination, but he hasn’t shown much movement in the polls amid fierce opposition from Trump and constant questions about his far-right politics, his political skills, and his readiness to national stage.
DeSantis spokesman Andrew Romeo did not deny reports of staff cuts, but offered an optimistic view of the upcoming campaign.
“Americans are rallying around Ron DeSantis and his plan to reverse Joe Biden’s failures and restore sanity to our country, and his momentum will only continue as voters see him in person more often, especially in Iowa,” Romeo said. “Beating Joe Biden and the $72 million behind him will require a flexible and candidate-driven campaign, and we’re building a movement to go the distance.”
Despite this optimism, some members of the DeSantis team privately acknowledge that the political scheme that led to re-election in Florida last fall may not work on the national stage. To that end, DeSantis will hold a press conference and is scheduled to sit down Tuesday with CNN correspondent Jake Tupper, abandoning a years-old practice of giving interviews almost exclusively to conservative media.
The personnel and strategic reshuffle came less than two months after DeSantis launched his presidential campaign.
“He’s going under,” Trump said of DeSantis during an interview on Fox News Sunday. The former president also suggested that he might not be in the debate next month given his lead over DeSantis and other Republicans opposed to him.
As DeSantis’ campaign refocuses publicly on Iowa, some on his team are already privately acknowledging that he must win the Iowa caucuses on January 15 to stand a realistic chance of denying Trump the GOP nomination for president. They fear that without a clear win in the GOP’s first primary contest, Trump is likely to become an unstoppable force in a months-long primary march through a country where momentum often matters more than money.
DeSantis was keen to strengthen his ties in the state during Saturday’s performance. He described Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds as a potential running mate and dismissed Trump’s recent complaints about her as “completely out of hand.”
“Of course,” DeSantis said when asked if he would consider a second-term Republican as his vice president if he won the GOP nomination. “I mean she is one of the best public servants in America.
And while DeSantis’ political team is full of cash compared to many other Republican contenders, Saturday’s quarterly filings with the Federal Election Commission revealed some cause for concern.
According to a federal report, DeSantis made over $20 million in his first six weeks in the race. Despite the huge sum, he also spent almost $8 million in the same period, leaving his campaign with $12.2 million at the end of June. And of that amount, roughly $3 million is for the general election and cannot be used in the GOP primary.
The report also revealed that the DeSantis campaign has dozens of paid employees and spends far more on payroll than other racers.
In the first six weeks of his campaign, DeSantis spent more than $890,000 on payroll, including benefits, insurance, payroll taxes, and processing fees, according to AP analysis. The campaign also spent over $845,000 in travel expenses, including DeSantis’ regular use of private jets.
However, DeSantis’ backing PAC supercommittee, which is legally barred from coordinating the campaign, said it has raised a staggering $130 million since the committee’s inception in March. More than half of that amount came from the state-level political committee once controlled by DeSantis.
The Never Back Down superteam has spent months building the infrastructure to support DeSantis in the first four states on the presidential nominating calendar, and even in the so-called “Super Tuesday” states that vote in early March.
Trump’s MAGA movement was ecstatic about DeSantis’ fight.
“The more he shows himself, the less attractive he seems,” tweeted longtime Trump ally Roger Stone. He added the hashtag “DeLoser”.