TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis continued to shift his presidential campaign staff this week by replacing his campaign manager with his gubernatorial chief of staff.
In a statement Tuesday, a spokesperson for the DeSantis campaign confirmed the governor tapped James Uthmeier to take the lead in his embattled presidential run. He replaced Generra Peck, who will stay on the staff as a lead political strategist.
“James Uthmeier has been one of Governor DeSantis’ top advisors for years and he is needed where it matters most: working hand in hand with Generra Peck and the rest of the team to put the governor in the best possible position to win this primary and defeat Joe Biden,” Communications Director Andrew Romeo said in a statement.
The campaign also tapped David Polyansky to join the operation. Polyansky is an advisor at the pro-DeSantis Never Back Down super PAC and previously served as chief of staff for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.
“David Polyansky will also be a critical addition to the team given his presidential campaign experience in Iowa and work at Never Back Down. We are excited about these additions as we continue to spread the governor’s message across the country. It’s time to reverse our nation’s decline and revive America’s future,” Romeo said.
The move comes on the heels of a turbulent month for the campaign. DeSantis recently let one-third of his staffers go as part of a campaign “reset” in the wake of slipping poll numbers. Another round of layoffs followed.
Last week, DeSantis’ biggest donor, budget hotel and aeronautics mogul Robert Bigelow, threatened to cut him off if he didn’t take on more moderate policy positions. In an interview with Reuters, Bigelow claimed he and other donors “are still on the fence” about supporting the governor.
Under Peck’s leadership, polls have slipped, cash has dried up and DeSantis’ message doesn’t seem to be landing with voters. Will doubling down with Uthmeir make a difference?
“It seems like a really suspect decision to actually select a campaign manager that’s never had any experience running a campaign and is actually the lead architect in these culture wars,” political expert Tara Newsom said. “It’s not going to play well with donors, it’s not going to play well with voters and it will be a failed reload.”
Even if Uthmeier’s strategies are sound, some political experts warn that DeSantis could be the problem, not his people.
“At the end of the day, it’s about the candidate and if voters aren’t happy with DeSantis, if they’re not getting behind his campaign, a campaign manager can’t really do anything about that,” political expert Sean Foreman said.
Former President Donald Trump, DeSantis’ chief rival and clear frontrunner for the Republican nomination, took the chance to pounce on Tuesday’s announcement.
“Ron DeSantis has already delivered a political hat trick today and it’s only lunch time. The only problem? All three goals were scored on himself,” Trump’s PAC wrote in a statement.
With another campaign restructuring in the works, experts say it is vital for DeSantis to make a strong impression with Iowa voters – and donors – this weekend.
The Messenger was the first to report the news of the DeSantis campaign’s latest staffing shake-up.