DeSantis Super PAC Cancels Television Ads in Early Nominating States

An influential super PAC supporting the presidential campaign of Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida is canceling its planned television advertisements for 2024 in the early nominating states of Iowa and New Hampshire.

Never Back Down, the deep-pocketed but embattled organization allied with Mr. DeSantis, has canceled $2.5 million worth of ads, according to Ad Impact, a media tracking company.

Campaigns are not allowed to coordinate directly with super PACs, but the move appears to align with the strategy suggested by the DeSantis campaign in a memo in late November.

James Uthmeier, Mr. DeSantis’s campaign manager, wrote in the memo that a new super PAC formed to aid the governor, Fight Right, would air television ads and Never Back Down would focus on its “field operation and ground game.”

Never Back Down has poured millions into an ambitious door-knocking operation in early states, especially in Iowa. But that ground game has sputtered, with Mr. DeSantis’ poll numbers stagnating as former President Donald J. Trump remains far ahead both in Iowa and nationally. And the super PAC itself has been embroiled in turmoil, with a series of top executives and strategists departing over the past month.

Fight Right originated amid internal disagreements over strategy at Never Back Down, which struggled to meld veteran political strategists from a consulting firm with DeSantis loyalists. Mr. DeSantis had also been troubled by the group’s advertising strategy, as The Times previously reported. Fight Right, which began airing ads in late November attacking former Gov. Nikki Haley of South Carolina, was formed by people with ties to Mr. DeSantis.

In a statement, Scott Wagner, the chairman of Never Back Down, said the group was “laser focused on its core mission — running the most advanced grass-roots and political caucus operation in this race and helping deliver the G.O.P. nomination for Governor DeSantis.”

“We are thrilled to have Fight Right and others covering the air for Governor DeSantis while we work the ground game in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and beyond,” Mr. Wagner added.

Taryn Fenske, a spokeswoman for Fight Right, said the group was placing an advertising buy of more than $2.5 million starting on Sunday, with $1.3 million behind an anti-Haley ad that is slated to start running in Iowa that day.

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