DeSantis-Supporting Super PAC Cancels Ad Buys In Key Early States Amid Major Shift In Resources

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Mary Lou Masters Contributor
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Never Back Down, a super PAC supporting Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ presidential bid, is canceling all of its 2024 advertising reservations in the key early states of Iowa and New Hampshire, the Daily Caller News Foundation confirmed on Friday.

The pro-DeSantis group is pulling back $2.5 million in ad buys for the key early states, though a source familiar with the move noted to the DCNF that none of the rescinded ad reservations were already paid for, and that nothing had been aired. The cancellation represents a major shift in the super PAC’s resources as a new pro-DeSantis group, Fight Right, is focusing solely on broadcast ads while Never Back Down is prioritizing ground game in the key early nominating states.

“Never Back Down is laser focused on its core mission — running the most advanced grassroots and political caucus operation in this race and helping deliver the GOP nomination for Governor DeSantis who will deliver America from the disastrous policies of the Left,” Scott Wagner, chairman of Never Back Down, told the DCNF in a statement. “We are thrilled to have Fight Right and others covering the air for Governor DeSantis while we work the ground game in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and beyond.”

Fight Right will begin placing over $2.5 million in ad reservations ahead of the Jan. 15 caucus, with $1.3 million going toward an anti-Nikki Haley spot in Iowa that will start on Sunday, according to the group. The super PAC is also planning on spending in New Hampshire ahead of it’s Jan. 23 primary.

“Fight Right is leading the charge to inform voters about the candidates in the race; that’s been the goal since its creation,” Taryn Fenske, a spokesperson for Fight Right, told the DCNF. (RELATED: Top Strategist Resigns From DeSantis Super PAC Amid Several High-Profile Departures)

Mike Dennehy, a veteran New Hampshire GOP strategist, told the DCNF the shift in resources is “concerning” for DeSantis’ efforts with voting season just next month.

“The chaos surrounding the troubled DeSantis campaign continues. Shifting SuperPACs in the final stages of the presidential race is concerning,” said Dennehy. “With less than 4 [weeks] before Iowa campaigns should be running at full steam without any bumps and the DeSantis campaign can’t seem to avoid hitting deep potholes.”

Never Back Down has undergone massive staff changes recently, with their top adviser Jeff Roe resigning on Dec. 16.

“What’s concerning is what’s already happened which is a shakeup in the structure of the outside spending. The shift in strategy is a result of that,” David Kochel, a GOP strategist based in Iowa, told the DCNF. “It feels to me like they’ve got it where they want it now. It just took a while and generated a lot of negative coverage.”

Mark Weaver, a national veteran Republican strategist, argued the shift could be in response to Haley’s rise in the polls, or it could merely be a shift in resources to deploy further on down the line.

“This is either reordering resources into different voter contact methods, like digital or direct mail, or grassroots or it’s getting ready to put it into South Carolina. And Super Tuesday,” said Weaver. “The goal is to win the nomination with or without winning New Hampshire. So the larger picture is always where are our resources best spent?”

DeSantis is currently polling in second in Iowa with 18.6% support, behind only former President Donald Trump, according to the RealClearPolitics average. However, the governor has fallen to fourth place in New Hampshire while Haley has risen to second with 24.8%.

“When you’re leading in the polls, you tend not to change your lineup out on the field. But when you’re behind, there’s a lot of changes, and that can lead to divisions, disagreement and differences of strategy,” Weaver added.

The DeSantis campaign did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.

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