Pro-DeSantis Super PAC Interim CEO Departs After 9 Days

Kristin Davison previously took over as an interim CEO to replace Chris Jankowski, who stepped down last month.
Pro-DeSantis Super PAC Interim CEO Departs After 9 Days
Republican presidential candidate Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks to guests during a campaign rally at the Thunderdome in Newton, Iowa, on Dec. 2, 2023. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Aldgra Fredly

Kristin Davison has reportedly departed as interim CEO of the Never Back Down super PAC backing Republican presidential candidate Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) after serving only nine days on the job.

Ms. Davison took over as an interim CEO to replace Chris Jankowski on Nov. 22, who had quit due to an “untenable” situation within the organization. The reason for Ms. Davison’s leaving remains unclear.

Her departure follows the resignation of Adam Laxalt, the former chairman of the group. Mr. Laxalt said that he wanted to return to his law practice and family after “nearly 26 straight months of being in a full-scale campaign.”

This marks the latest shake-up in Never Back Down. Group spokesperson Jessica Szymanski said that Scott Wagner will assume the roles of interim CEO and board chairman from now on, The Hill reported.

Nevertheless, the organization reaffirmed that it has “the most organized, advanced caucus operation of anyone in the 2024 primary field” despite the series of shake-ups.

“We look forward to continuing that great work to help elect Gov. DeSantis the next President of the United States,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

Aside from Ms. Davison, communications director Erin Perrine and director of operations Matt Palmisano were also departing, according to The Associated Press, citing “two people familiar with the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity.”

Never Back Down has carried the bulk of Mr. DeSantis’ presidential organizing duties and advertising loads since he announced his candidacy in May.

The shake-up of its leadership comes as Mr. DeSantis is under growing pressure to cut into former President Donald Trump’s huge leads in Iowa and nationally. And more voters and donors are considering backing the campaign of former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley.

The internal discord within Never Back Down surfaced following reports by NBC News and The New York Times, citing anonymous sources, and detailing disagreements among the group’s leadership. Allegedly, a heated argument erupted during a leadership meeting, nearly escalating to a physical confrontation, according to “a source who was in the room.”

A new super PAC called Fight Right, which received a $1 million infusion, formed soon after the disagreement reportedly broke out.

Mr. DeSantis, first seen as the main alternative to Mr. Trump in the Republican primary, trails significantly behind him in polls at 13.6 percent to President Trump’s commanding lead at 62 percent support. Ms. Haley follows at 9.6 percent, and entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy at 4.8 percent.

Ms. Haley, once considered a long-shot, has also made notable gains in some state-level polls, emerging victorious in a mock Iowa caucus and winning a bipartisan New Hampshire poll against President Joe Biden.

Caden Pearson and The Associated Press contributed to this report.