Over a third of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ campaign staff was slashed this week as he sought to refocus his bid for the presidency following a rocky start.
DeSantis is vying for the Republican presidential nomination in a crowded field that has so far been dominated by former President Donald Trump. The governor of Florida is seen as Trump’s most formidable Republican rival and has routinely polled second to him in the Real Clear Politics polling average.
In the second quarter of the year, the DeSantis campaign raised an outstanding $20 million, but it quickly spent nearly 40% of that sum.
38 employees from the campaign’s 90+ employees were let go as part of that correction, including less than 10 employees whose departures from the campaign were previously revealed by POLITICO earlier this month. This leaves the campaign with somewhere about 54 employees. Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), who has the greatest campaign payroll, and the campaign are now tied as a result of the reduction in campaign staff. 40 people work for Trump’s campaign.
Two key campaign advisers, Dave Abrams and Tucker Obenshain, who quit the campaign to work for an outside organization, are also among the cutbacks.
“Following a top-to-bottom review of our organization, we have taken additional, aggressive steps to streamline operations and put Ron DeSantis in the strongest position to win this primary and defeat Joe Biden,” Peck said in a statement. “Gov. DeSantis is going to lead the Great American Comeback and we’re ready to hit the ground running as we head into an important month of the campaign.”
In the layoffs, one employee who was allegedly responsible for a few online videos, including one in which DeSantis was shown holding a sonnenrad, a Nazi emblem, was fired.
Along with changing the workforce, DeSantis has also changed the way he runs his campaign. Last week, the governor gave CNN’s Jake Tapper a sit-down interview, which marked a notable change for the Florida governor, who usually avoids major media networks in favor of right-of-center publications.
Six months before the first primary, DeSantis is overhauling his campaign, allowing him plenty of time to put the reforms into action and regain his footing before voters cast their ballots.
Changes like this are “not always fatal,” according to Byron York, chief political correspondent for The Washington Examiner, but they frequently show that the candidate was unaware of some “very serious problems in his own organization.”
Campaign meltdowns are not always fatal. John McCain survived one in July 2007, at about the same spot in the campaign that DeSantis is now. But they don't say good things about the candidate, suggesting he was unaware of some very serious problems in his own organization.
— Byron York (@ByronYork) July 25, 2023
The campaign, for its part, has released a statement assuring supporters that their concerns have been addressed.
“No campaign is immune to changes, cuts, or challenges – our campaign acknowledged that aggressive steps needed to be taken and executed on the plan,” the note said.
Per source, DeSantis campaign just sent out the following talking points to key supporters pic.twitter.com/KzrdFLWYiz
— Ben Jacobs (@Bencjacobs) July 25, 2023