Pro-DeSantis PAC courts top strategists from Cruz, Youngkin, and Trump campaigns: Report

Ron DeSantis
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis greets people in the crowd during an event Friday, March 10, 2023, in Davenport, Iowa. Ron Johnson/AP

Pro-DeSantis PAC courts top strategists from Cruz, Youngkin, and Trump campaigns: Report

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A political action committee seeking to craft a 2024 springboard for Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) is reportedly lining up a melange of seasoned GOP strategists from high-profile campaigns.

Never Back Down, the PAC launched earlier this month by Republican Ken Cuccinelli, the former Virginia attorney general, is adding top aides from former President Donald Trump’s 2020 campaign, Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) 2016 campaign, and Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s (R-VA) 2021 campaign, sources told the Washington Post.

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DeSantis is not linked with the PAC, and there are several other groups that have formed with the hope of recruiting him into the 2024 fray. However, some of his allies, such as Phil Cox, who was a top adviser to his 2022 reelection bid, are advising Never Back Down, per the report. Cox is reportedly collaborating with Axiom Strategies President Jeff Roe, who recently signed on with the PAC.

Roe co-founded the Republican political consulting firm Axiom Strategies and aided Cruz’s 2016 campaign and Youngkin’s 2021 gubernatorial run. His role at Never Back Down was revealed last week.

Also following Roe from Axiom is Kristin Davison, a top adviser to Youngkin who will reportedly assume the role of the group’s chief operating officer. Chris Jankowski, another Virginia strategist, will also collaborate with Davison, according to the report. Davison and Roe are expected to continue counseling Youngkin.

Axiom’s chief strategy officer, David Polyansky, will come aboard Never Back Down in the role of senior adviser, per the report. Polyansky brings experience in Iowa with him, having been an adviser to Sen. Joni Ernst’s (R-IA) 2014 Senate campaign. Polyansky also worked for former Gov. Scott Walker’s (R-WI) 2016 campaign and later helped Cruz’s campaign.

From Trumpworld, Matt Wolking, former Trump 2020 deputy communications director, and Erin Perrine, the 2020 Trump campaign’s director of press communications, have also joined the PAC.

“Trump was the president we needed 8 years ago, but to make America great again, our movement needs a disciplined leader who wins instead of loses, never backs down, fights smart and puts the mission before himself,” Wolking tweeted following the news of him joining the PAC on Monday.

As defections pile up, Trump’s team appears to be blacklisting those who staff up DeSantis’s de facto campaign operations. Justin Caporale, who helps lead Trump’s 2024 advance team, declared staffers aiding DeSantis’s recent book tour, which broached early states like Iowa, “persona non grata,” per RealClearPolitics.

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DeSantis has been tight-lipped about his presidential aspirations, though he has signaled that a 2024 decision will likely come after the Florida legislature concludes its session in May. Meanwhile, DeSantis is slated to travel to a bevy of early states, such as New Hampshire, Iowa, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and more. DeSantis is also set to head to Israel next month.

At the moment, DeSantis is running in second place among the hypothetical 2024 GOP contenders, according to the latest RealClearPolitics polling aggregate.

© 2023 Washington Examiner

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