A super PAC backing Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s 2024 run for the White House said it’s pausing voter canvassing in four states and investing some of the freed-up field resources into three early-voting states.
Never Back Down, the PAC supporting Mr. DeSantis’s presidential bid, is suspending door-knocking operations in Nevada, California, Texas, and North Carolina, The Epoch Times has learned.
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Instead, the PAC will be refocusing its efforts and investing some of those field resources into Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina—three early-voting states.
“We want to reinvest in the first three, we see real opportunities,” PAC spokeswoman Erin Perrine told The Epoch Times in an emailed statement, referring to Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina.
“The first three are going to set the conditions for the March states,” she added. California, North Carolina, and Texas hold their primaries in March 2024, according to the GOP primary calendar, while Nevada, an early-voting state, holds its primary in February.
However, Nevada faces what Ms. Perrine described as a volatile situation, where the state Republican Party has announced plans to hold its own party-run presidential caucus in addition to a statewide primary.
“When you have that kind of uncertainty about how the election’s going to be conducted, that becomes a pretty unstable environment to be investing the kind of resources that we’re investing,” Ms. Perrine said. “Nevada is heading to a lawsuit.”
Turbulence in California, Nevada
Nevada Republicans insist on holding their own caucus despite a new state law calling for a primary election. Some say that the competing contests could confuse some voters and it seems that the Republican primary wouldn’t count as the party-run caucus plans to decide which candidate will receive the state’s delegates.
While it’s not yet clear when the Nevada caucus will take place, reports suggest it will be around the same time as the Feb. 6, 2024, primary, which falls after the Iowa caucus and primaries in New Hampshire and South Carolina.
Ms. Perrine told The Epoch Times that the Nevada GOP’s move is meant to favor former President Donald Trump’s chances at winning in 2024. Other officials at Never Back Down have made similar comments.
“The situation in Nevada is very clear. They’re eliminating important grassroots processes which doesn’t benefit voters, but it does benefit one person: Donald Trump,” Jess Szymanski, deputy communications director of Never Back Down, told the Washington Examiner.
“Nevada Republicans continue to lose elections with Trump at the top of the ticket, yet state GOP leaders are so obsessed with appeasing Trump that they’ve rigged their primary to prioritize Trump above their own voters,” Ms. Szymanski added.
Nevada Republican Party Chairman Michael McDonald, who was heavily involved in the process of maintaining the state’s GOP caucus, told ABC News that it’s a long-standing tradition that is “bigger than Gov. DeSantis” or “anybody that’s running for office.”
Ms. Perrine told The Epoch Times that the situation with the primaries in California is similar to what’s happening in Nevada.
“A similar situation in California, where they eliminated the California Republicans’ say in their own primary as well as making grassroots involvement impossible,” she said. “Now the central committee will have a convention and a vote at the end of September, which could alter that. But that was a Trump-inspired rigging as well.”
In July, California Republicans changed delegate rules (pdf) in a way that a number of political pundits have said makes it less competitive and benefits President Trump.
Under the new rules, a Republican presidential candidate who receives over 50 percent of the vote in the state’s primary election will be awarded all 169 of the state’s delegates.
The old rules let Republican presidential candidates win three delegates in each congressional district, letting them target specific areas rather than focusing on expensive statewide campaigns, while allowing multiple candidates to get at least some delegates.
“When they changed it to a proportional, statewide winner-take-all, that completely eliminated the opportunity for grassroots campaigning,” Ms. Perrine said. “Literally a landmark decision they made with breathtaking speed.”
“And so with neither state having a fair process, the door knockers that were in Nevada and California, we decided to make them kind of refocus into the first three,” she explained.
By contrast, California GOP Chairwoman Jessica Patterson argued that the new rules would encourage candidates to campaign more extensively and put forward their proposal to a broader swathe of voters.
“Republican presidential candidates will not only be encouraged to spend real time campaigning in our state and making their case to voters, but Republican voters will equally be encouraged to turn out to support their chosen candidate to help them win delegates,” Ms. Patterson said in a statement.
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‘Scam’ PAC Closes
Elsewhere, Mr. DeSantis’s presidential campaign said recently that the closure of the Ron to the Rescue super PAC was “welcome news,” while calling the PAC a “scam.”
“We’ve made clear from the beginning that this was a scam PAC looking to grift off Ron DeSantis, and it comes as welcome news they are no longer attempting to fleece our donors,” Andrew Romeo, communications director for the campaign, said in a statement.
“Ron DeSantis outraised both [President Joe] Biden and [former President Donald] Trump last quarter, and we look forward to continuing our fundraising success as we capitalize on his strong debate performance and momentum in the early states,” Mr. Romeo added.
Republican strategist John Thomas launched the Ron to the Rescue super PAC last fall to urge Mr. DeSantis to enter the 2024 presidential race. In an exclusive interview with the Daily Mail, Mr. Thomas said he and the committee’s donors had become disenchanted with the governor following his botched campaign launch on Twitter, now X.
“We were hoping to do like a formal TV campaign of air support when DeSantis officially launched,” he told the outlet. “But the problem with that is, with the Twitter Spaces blunder, like almost from the get-go, all of our major donors said, ‘Let’s just see how this plays out.’”
According to Federal Election Commission filings, the Ron to the Rescue PAC raised just over $1,600, of which more than $1,200 was disbursed to Mr. Thomas’s political consulting firm, Thomas Partners Strategies, for “PAC strategy consulting.”
Now, Mr. Thomas said he and his donor network intend to shift their support to President Donald Trump, who had surprised him with “a level of campaign savvy and discipline” that he had not previously seen from him.
“We’re going to see, after the reporting period of Sept. 30, how Trump’s cash on hand is, and then we’re going to try to determine where we can fill in gaps, if it’s needed.”
Since announcing his third presidential bid, President Trump has maintained his position as the clear frontrunner in the primary contest, with Mr. DeSantis consistently polling in second place.
According to the latest RealClearPolitics average of polls, the 45th president holds a commanding 39-point lead over Mr. DeSantis and is supported by 53.6 percent of Republicans.
Samantha Flom contributed to this report. Article cross-posted from our premium news partners at The Epoch Times.