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Jul 26, 2023, 9:30am EDT
politics

The Ron DeSantis campaign’s rocky reboot continues

REUTERS/Scott Morgan
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The News

Ron DeSantis’ campaign manager Generra Peck appears safe in her job — for now, sources tell Semafor, despite a new round of firings and another controversy over a far-right meme video linked to the campaign.

Outside observers are less convinced anyone is off-limits, particularly after the campaign confirmed on Tuesday that 38 total staffers — nearly one-third of his original team — had been let go in recent weeks as the governor continues to downsize amid troubling poll numbers and a high burn rate. Peck, who has faced blame internally over the bloated team, said in a statement the moves were meant “to streamline operations and put Ron DeSantis in the strongest position to win this primary and defeat Joe Biden.”

Among those fired, as Semafor first reported, was Nate Hochman, a prominent young conservative who faced media scrutiny in recent weeks after sharing pro-DeSantis meme videos on the heels of a strange and widely discussed anti-LGBT video that the New York Times traced to a DeSantis campaign staffer. Axios later reported that one of the newer videos Hochman shared, which made prominent use of a symbol adopted by fascists, was secretly made by Hochman himself.

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The news, which came hours after DeSantis was involved in a car crash (he and his team were uninjured), was the latest in a string of developments tied to the campaign’s ongoing reboot.

Inside the campaign, there’s a mix of confidence and concern, depending on who you’re speaking with. The recent firings have placated some worried donors, though others have grown more skeptical that DeSantis is the one to beat Trump in a primary.

“I want to see some momentum,” Republican donor Dan Eberhart, who still remains firmly behind DeSantis, told Semafor. Eberhart said DeSantis was correct in “dropping some ballast” before the campaign heats up later on, adding that “the first debate is the start of the regular season.”

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So what’s next for team DeSantis? In the coming weeks, expect to see a serious shift to policy from the Florida governor. DeSantis has been previewing this pivot, noting during a recent press conference that his team will be putting together “a vision for the economy” and “a big rollout on national security.” It’s an open question whether that will turn things around — the divisions in the party, and especially between Trump and the rest of field, seem to be about something more visceral than policy papers.

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