Florida Gov. and Republican presidential candidate Ron DeSantis looks on at his Iowa caucus watch party in West Des Moines, Iowa, on Jan. 15, 2024.
Brendan Mcdermid | Reuters
A super political action committee supporting Ron DeSantis in the Republican presidential primary is laying off staff as it shifts its operation out of Iowa following the Florida governor’s second-place finish in the cycle’s first nominating contest.
An official with the PAC, Never Back Down, told CNBC on Wednesday that it has transferred some of its Iowa political staff to other early primary states and will pay the rest of them through January.
The move was planned, said the official, who spoke anonymously to discuss the group’s activities.
The extent of the layoffs, first reported by The New York Times, was not immediately clear. It was also unclear whether they were contained to Iowa.
George Andrews, who said he was let go from Never Back Down early Wednesday morning, identified himself on LinkedIn as both an Iowa precinct operations director and the group’s California state director.
In a post on LinkedIn, Andrews said he was “now a free agent due to budget cuts beyond my control.”
“I completely understand why this had to happen, harbor no ill will, and wish my former team great success as they attempt to bring back sanity to our party,” Andrews wrote in the post. “What they are trying to accomplish for America is much greater than my termination as an individual employee.”
Andrews declined to comment when reached by phone. A spokesperson for Never Back Down did not immediately respond to CNBC’s requests for additional information about the layoffs.
“Never Back Down continues to host a slew of events on the ground for Gov. DeSantis in South Carolina, New Hampshire, and beyond aligned with our core mission of mobilizing grassroots field operations in those states,” Scott Wagner, the group’s CEO, said in a statement
“We’ve mobilized several members of our robust Iowa team over to the other early primary states to help in these efforts and will continue working to help elect Gov. DeSantis, the most effective conservative leader in the race, our next President,” Wagner’s statement said.
Both DeSantis and the PAC closely backing him had zeroed in on the Iowa caucuses as the candidate’s best chance to fire up a campaign that has fallen far behind the front-runner, former President Donald Trump.
DeSantis narrowly edged out former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley to take second in Iowa, but trailed Trump by about 30 points.
Never Back Down invested heavily in DeSantis’ field operation in Iowa, with its employees knocking 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 backing Trump and Haley did not immediately respond when asked if they were laying off or transferring staffers in Iowa.
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