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Tipsheet

Shake-Up Time: Why Ron DeSantis Just Fired Scores of 2024 Staffers

AP Photo/Josh Reynolds

Ron DeSantis’ 2024 campaign is undergoing a massive shake-up. He used Trump’s line here: “You’re fired.” The Florida Republican is firing dozens of staffers in what is being reported as a cost-cutting measure. While DeSantis’ operation has been flushed with cash, these are the realities of the national campaign. You need to feed the beast. These campaigns cost money, and Mr. DeSantis might have hired too many people. The staffers terminated were described as mid-level, though more firings are expected in the coming days. There are even rumblings that DeSantis’ campaign manager, Generra Peck, could be on the chopping block (via NBC News): 

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Ron DeSantis’ presidential campaign has fired roughly a dozen staffers — and more are expected in the coming weeks as he shakes up his big-money political operations after less than two months on the campaign trail. 

Those who were let go were described to NBC News by a source familiar as mid-level staffers across several departments whose departures were related to cutting costs. The exits come after the departures of David Abrams and Tucker Obenshain, veterans of DeSantis’ political orbit, which were first reported by Politico.

Sources involved with the DeSantis campaign say there is an internal assessment among some that they hired too many staffers too early, and despite bringing in $20 million during its first six weeks, it was becoming clear their costs needed to be brought down. 

Some in DeSantis’ political orbit are laying the early blame at the feet of campaign manager Generra Peck, who also led DeSantis’ 2022 midterm reelection bid and is in the hot seat right now. 

“She should be,” one DeSantis donor said. 

“They never should have brought so many people on, the burn rate was way too high,” said one Republican source familiar with the campaign’s thought process. “People warned the campaign manager but she wanted to hear none of it.” 

“DeSantis stock isn’t rising,” the donor added. “Twenty percent is not what people signed up for.” 

[…]  

DeSantis has signaled that he is aware his campaign did not start the way he wanted, but her has largely blamed media coverage and other outside factors. 

To try and re-center, his campaign is doubling down on the early states, especially Iowa, whose first-in-the-nation nominating contest is now seen as a crucial marker. If DeSantis wins, the field will get smaller and he will get closer to the one-on-one matchup with Trump that he wants. But losing the key state would likely cement Trump's status as the unbeatable frontrunner even further. 

That assessment was outlined in a confidential internal memo NBC News obtained Friday outlining the campaign’s strategy to regain its footing. The memo indicated that there would be a heavy focus on early states where, DeSantis advisers think, Trump’s supporters can be won over. 

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The polling for DeSantis hasn’t moved in a way that would suggest he’s riding atop a groundswell. His unfavorables are dismal, and the momentum that could have been building at the outset of his 2024 announcement died when Special Counsel Jack Smith indicted former President Donald Trump in the classified documents investigation. Democrats know what they’re doing. Their 2024 goal is to do everything possible to get the GOP base to nominate Trump again. The second indictment did that, with another wave of support coalescing around the former president. 

But even DeSantis’ advisers have admitted they’re in a rough spot. The Florida governor is not where he is supposed to be in the polls, and that lack of movement, given the size of his war chest, could cause big donors to flee. As of now, Mr. DeSantis looks more like Jeb Bush in 2016, who had a ton of money behind him but crashed against the wall once Trump got into the race. Maybe he's a combination of Bush, who had Scrooge McDuck’s account balance heading into the contest, and Scott Walker; someone also pegged for being a future leader of the party. Both men had any future GOP plans written off when Trump beat them handily in the primary. Walker also peaked too soon in 2016, leading to his campaign's brutal end. GOP governors who have duked it out with Trump have not fared well. Is that what’s happening with DeSantis?

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