Super PAC 'Never Back Down' Halts Door-Knocking in Key Primaries Due to Financial Struggles and Trump's Popularity

  • by:
  • Source: Wayne Dupree
  • 08/31/2023
The Super PAC "Never Back Down," which supports Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' presidential campaign, has decided to cease its door-knocking operations in four crucial primary states. This decision comes as both the campaign and PAC face financial challenges and contend with the overwhelming popularity of former President Donald Trump in the polls.

The PAC officials have confirmed that they have stopped their door-knocking operations in Nevada and California. This decision follows their recent discontinuation of ground game work in North Carolina and Texas. Nevada is an early primary state with a significant number of delegates. It is scheduled to be the third state on the GOP calendar. Additionally, California, North Carolina, and Texas are also important states on Super Tuesday (March 5, 2024), as they offer a substantial number of delegates.

The decision to withdraw from these important states can be attributed to DeSantis' challenging summer, characterized by his "war on woke" stance that alienated donors and failed to attract Republican primary voters from Trump. Additionally, the campaign terminated a significant portion of its staff, including the campaign manager, while the candidate's personality faced frequent criticism and mockery. The perception of the entire operation being an expensive and complicated but ultimately unwieldy waste of resources was influenced by reports of excessive spending, such as private jet flights, as well as the deliberate leak of a Super PAC memo offering advice to DeSantis on debate strategy.

The current situation is a stark contrast to the previous media coverage of the PAC's efforts. The PAC had organized door-knocking training in Iowa a few months ago, inviting reporters to witness the training. The training involved hundreds of canvassers who were expected to play a significant role in a $100 million, multi-state campaign aimed at reducing Trump's advantage.

In contrast, while the DeSantis campaign faced staff reductions to address financial challenges, the PAC controversially assumed responsibility for organizing events and arranging transportation for the candidate. This involved providing buses and coordinating rallies at locations such as the Iowa State Fair, enabling the governor to engage with early primary voters. Federal candidates and political action committees (PACs) are prohibited by law from engaging in coordination. This decision has been met with disapproval from ethics watchdog organizations.

In addition to ethical considerations, this initiative also consumed a significant portion of the PAC's financial resources, further limiting the available funds for grassroots door-to-door campaigning in various states. While the PAC still has funds available, allocating resources towards bus tours and rallies in Iowa limits its ability to support door-to-door canvassing in Nevada or purchase television ads in Super Tuesday states. According to a recent report by the Tampa Bay Times, billionaire donors have been providing financial support to the Never Back Down PAC. The report also highlighted how these funds were being utilized to address the campaign's financial shortcomings.

After several months of reporting, it was observed that prominent Republican donors were unwilling to support DeSantis and some even publicly withdrew their support due to their dissatisfaction with the campaign's lack of progress or the governor's strategy of trying to outmaneuver Trump from a conservative standpoint. In early August, Robert Bigelow, the primary contributor to the Never Back Down PAC, informed Reuters that he would withhold further donations until Governor DeSantis demonstrated success in attracting additional major donors and distancing himself from extremist stances.

He must transition in order to appeal to moderate individuals. According to Bigelow, if he does not, he will lose. Extremism is not a viable strategy for achieving electoral success. According to the Reuters report, Governor DeSantis signed a six-week abortion ban that Bigelow criticized as excessively extreme. The hotel entrepreneur from Las Vegas, who has contributed over $20 million to the PAC, stated that he will refrain from making further donations "until there is evidence of his ability to generate more funds independently." I am already a significant proportion.

According to a report by NBC News, the PAC had a maximum of 250 field staffers in Nevada, California, North Carolina, and Texas earlier this year. Certain individuals will now be redeployed to Iowa, New Hampshire, or South Carolina.

Erin Perrine, a spokesperson for a political action committee (PAC), characterized the withdrawal from the four states as a reinvestment, aligning with discussions about the campaign's attempt to "reboot" during the summer.

Perrine expressed the intention to reinvest in the initial three states, namely Iowa, South Carolina, and New Hampshire. There are significant opportunities in the first three. The initial three will establish the parameters for the states in March.

According to the most recent Real Clear Politics polling averages, Trump holds a significant lead of 26 points in Iowa, a 30.7-point advantage in South Carolina, and a 31-point advantage in New Hampshire. In New Hampshire, DeSantis is in a statistical tie with former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie in recent polls. However, an Emerson survey from early August places DeSantis in third place, trailing Christie by one point.

Kristin Davison, the chief operating officer of the PAC, stated that the organization plans to resume its activities in the Super Tuesday states at a later time.

She stated that they would return to the states with primary elections scheduled in March. We are likely to resume construction after the New Year.

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