The tumultuous Ron DeSantis presidential campaign took another hit Saturday evening.
Jeff Roe, the top strategist for pro-DeSantis super PAC ‘Never Back Down,’ announced his departure.
“I cannot in good conscience stay affiliated with Never Back Down given the statements in the Washington Post today. They are not true and an unwanted distraction at a critical time for Governor DeSantis,” Roe said in a statement posted to X.
“I am resigning my position effective immediately. Governor DeSantis has been an exceptional governor and I hope he will be the 47th President of the United States,” he added.
I can’t believe it ended this way. I’m so proud to have worked alongside these men and women at NBD 24/7 the past nine months to save the country. Good luck the next 28 days and a wake up. I’m so sorry I can’t be there with you. pic.twitter.com/Rh4oQQ1tAE
— Jeff Roe (@jeffroe) December 17, 2023
X users commented on Roe’s abrupt departure from Never Back Down:
DeSantis got taken for a ride. Worst campaign in history. https://t.co/NkE7veW8TP
— Cernovich (@Cernovich) December 17, 2023
Just wow. Never Back Down has backed down. It appears to be over for DeSantis. What a mess this has been. https://t.co/oAxQzUFaHf
— Henry Rodgers (@henryrodgersdc) December 17, 2023
GOOD RIDDANCE https://t.co/MYSoZub3z0
— Jenna Ellis (@JennaEllisEsq) December 17, 2023
The guy came in and milked every penny he could from Never Back Down while simultaneously destroying it from the inside as predicted by so many months ago https://t.co/MfU7cCC5ST
— Brendon Leslie (@BrendonLeslie) December 17, 2023
According to The Washington Post, the super PAC sent statements suggesting the group fired officials connected to Roe’s firm over “mismanagement and conduct issues.”
From The Washington Post:
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.
Rather than a new playbook for presidential campaigns, the broader DeSantis project has exposed the dangers of depending on emerging loopholes in campaign finance law that allow candidates to turn over traditional election efforts to groups that can take donations of any size from corporations or individuals.
“The super PAC model of winning a presidential primary, I think, is staggering, if not on the ropes,” said one DeSantis donor. “And if you’re going to have a successful presidential primary campaign you need to be able to raise hard dollars.”
DeSantis — who has sometimes been criticized as awkward in his public appearances and has struggled to win over new voters all year — is still polling in second place in Iowa, and Never Back Down is running a formidable ground operation in the early states that could provide for a surprisingly strong finish. But he now finds himself in an uphill struggle against the recent momentum of former U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley and the continued dominance of former president Donald Trump.
This account of the struggles of DeSantis and the super PAC supporting him is based on interviews with 22 people involved in the effort, most of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly and wanted to describe private events.
Some described a troubled structure that allowed people close to the governor to shift the major strategic decisions of the super PAC, often over the objections of the group’s staff. At the same time, others close to DeSantis in Tallahassee blamed the failure of the broader effort on the team of strategists and vendors who had been hired to run Never Back Down. Ultimately, they said, those closest to DeSantis drove the effort to revamp the independent group.
As Jack Posobiec noted, Roe’s departure comes just a few weeks before the January Iowa Caucuses.
BREAKING: Ron DeSantis SuperPAC head Jeff Roe RESIGNS just weeks before the Iowa Caucuses
— Jack Poso 🇺🇸 (@JackPosobiec) December 17, 2023
Jeff Roe Resigns from Ron DeSantis SuperPAC After Staff Leaks Massive Turmoil Amid Campaign Collapse https://t.co/zL6SO9VWYH
— TheLastRefuge (@TheLastRefuge2) December 17, 2023
NBC News added:
The writing had been on the wall for some time as people close to DeSantis took more control of the super PAC in recent weeks and dismissed several of Roe’s lieutenants.Advertisement
In the past month or so, Never Back Down has had three CEOs. Including Roe, four top officials have resigned, and three others, according to The Washington Post, were fired.
The chaos has reflected frustration from the governor and his inner circle at DeSantis’ inability to gain traction against Trump and beat back the rise of former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley — with some pointing the finger at Roe and his team from his consulting firm, Axiom Strategies.
That disappointment led to the creation last month of a second super PAC, Fight Right, to handle advertising — particularly to attack Haley. Fight Right is run by three close DeSantis allies.
The clashes within Never Back Down spilled into public view last month when NBC News reported that Roe and longtime DeSantis confidant Scott Wagner got into a heated argument while nine board members and some senior staff were discussing budgeting.
Wagner is now chairman of Never Back Down.