Pro-DeSantis super PAC lays off staff after finishing second in Iowa

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Florida Governor and Republican presidential candidate Ron DeSantis looks at the Iowa Caucus Watch Party in West Des Moines, Iowa, U.S., January 15, 2024.

Brendan McDiarmid | Reuters

The super PAC supporting Ron DeSantis in the GOP presidential primary is laying off staff as it moves its operations from Iowa after the Florida governor finished second in the cycle’s first nominating contest.

An official with the PAC, Never Back Down, told CNBC on Wednesday that it has moved some of its political staff in Iowa to other early primary states and will pay the remainder through January.

The official, who spoke anonymously to discuss the group’s activities, said the move was planned.

The extent of the layoffs, was first reported by New York times, and it was not immediately clear. It was also not clear whether they were brought to Iowa.

George Andrews, who said he was let go from Never Back Down early Wednesday morning, identified himself on LinkedIn as the group’s director of operations for the Iowa region and the group’s director of California.

In a LinkedIn post, Andrews said he was “now a free agent due to budget cuts beyond my control.”

“I completely understand why this happened, I bear no ill will, and I wish my former team great success in their attempt to restore sanity to our party,” Andrews wrote in the post. “What they are trying to achieve for America is far greater than terminating me as an individual employee.”

Andrews declined to comment when reached by phone. A Never Back Down spokesperson did not immediately respond to CNBC’s requests for additional information about the layoffs.

“Never Back Down continues to host a significant number of on-the-ground events for Governor DeSantis in South Carolina, New Hampshire and beyond in alignment with our core mission of mobilizing grassroots field operations in those states,” said Scott Wagner, the group’s CEO. In the current situation

“We have mobilized many members of our strong team in Iowa to other primary states to assist in these efforts and will continue to work to help elect Governor DeSantis, the most effective conservative leader in the race, as our next president.” The statement said.

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Both DeSantis and the political action committee that supports him have focused closely on the Iowa caucuses as the candidate’s best opportunity to launch a campaign that has lagged far behind the front-runner, former President Donald Trump.

DeSantis narrowly beat out the former UN ambassador. Nikki Haley is in second place in Iowa, but trails Trump by about 30 points.

Never Back Down has invested heavily in DeSantis’ field operations in Iowa, where its employees have knocked on more than 915,000 doors in the Hawkeye State. It spent $17.6 million on ads there in 2023, according to AdImpact.

Super PACs supporting Trump and Haley did not immediately respond when asked if they were laying off or relocating staff in Iowa.

This article originally appeared on www.cnbc.com

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