Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) is meeting Monday with potential donors to Fight Right, a newly formed super PAC that is backing his presidential campaign, amid tensions with another super PAC that culminated last week in the departure of the group’s chief executive.
In a memo Monday, DeSantis campaign manager James Uthmeier said the campaign would welcome the efforts of Fight Right, while also praising the “incredible field operation and ground game” of Never Back Down, which has played an unusually large role in DeSantis’s 2024 White House bid.
Fight Right will “devote full attention to fighting for Ron DeSantis through powerful TV advertising,” Uthmeier wrote.
“In the final push for the Iowa Caucus victory, this campaign will proudly fight alongside NBD’s impressive ground game, and Fight Right’s television team, to show the people of Iowa that this is a time for choosing,” he added.
The memo comes as infighting between top DeSantis allies has spilled into public view — and as DeSantis’s campaign continues to struggle to gain momentum. While campaigns are limited by federal law to raising no more than $3,300 from individuals for the primary race, super PACs have no such restrictions. However, super PACs are legally prohibited from coordinating with the campaigns they back on strategy.
DeSantis allies created Fight Right earlier this month. Never Back Down’s board members were divided over a decision to transfer money to fund the new pro-DeSantis group, according to two people familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations.
Last week, Fight Right began airing attack ads aimed at rising presidential rival Nikki Haley, shaking up the DeSantis operation late in the race. Never Back Down had already run its own ads against Haley, a former ambassador to the United Nations, but took them off the air recently amid worries that the negative spots were backfiring on DeSantis, given how closely he is associated with that super PAC.
Never Back Down booked more than $40 million in ads this cycle, more than any other super PAC or campaign in the presidential race, according to the ad tracking firm AdImpact.
Chris Jankowski, formerly the head of Never Back Down, resigned last week, saying the environment had become “untenable” for him and that the problems were “well beyond a difference of strategic opinion.”
Never Back Down was initially funded with more than $80 million left over from a group backing DeSantis’s gubernatorial reelection, and it built a massive door-knocking program, hosted many of DeSantis’s events and took on some of the cost of his private plane travel. That arrangement helped the campaign offload many costs, and Never Back Down expanded its role further as the campaign downsized amid an early budget crunch.
Officials with the Never Back Down super PAC and the DeSantis campaign have questioned each other’s strategy at times.
DeSantis is meeting Monday with prospective backers of Fight Right in Palm Beach, Fla., according to a person familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations. Fight Right’s directors include DeSantis adviser David Dewhirst, DeSantis appointee Jeff Aaron and DeSantis-linked lobbyist Scott Ross.
Josh Dawsey contributed to this report.