IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Ron DeSantis’ super PAC loses its top strategist in latest sign of turmoil

Jeff Roe said he could not “in good conscience stay affiliated with Never Back Down” in a statement posted on social media Saturday night.
Image: Ron DeSantis Holds His 99th Campaign Rally In Iowa
Republican presidential candidate and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis during a campaign rally in Newton, Iowa, on Dec. 2. Scott Olson / Getty Images

The uneasy relationship between Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ campaign and the key strategist at his deep-pocketed super PAC came to an end Saturday night.

“I cannot in good conscience stay affiliated with Never Back Down given the statements in the Washington Post today,” the strategist, Jeff Roe, said in a statement posted to X. “They are not true and an unwanted distraction at a critical time for Governor DeSantis.”

His decision was first reported by The Washington Post, which published an extensive story on the long-running tensions between DeSantis’ campaign team and the super PAC earlier in the day.

“Roe has delivered stunning victories in the past but this doesn’t seem to be his time,” DeSantis donor Dan Eberhart said. “Gov. DeSantis wants to head into the final stretch with his loyalists, not necessarily nationally known operatives with presidential campaign experience per se.”

The writing had been on the wall for some time as people close to DeSantis took more control of the super PAC in recent weeks and dismissed several of Roe’s lieutenants.

In the past month or so, Never Back Down has had three CEOs. Including Roe, four top officials have resigned, and three others, according to The Washington Post, were fired.

The chaos has reflected frustration from the governor and his inner circle at DeSantis’ inability to gain traction against Trump and beat back the rise of former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley — with some pointing the finger at Roe and his team from his consulting firm, Axiom Strategies.

That disappointment led to the creation last month of a second super PAC, Fight Right, to handle advertising — particularly to attack Haley. Fight Right is run by three close DeSantis allies.

The clashes within Never Back Down spilled into public view last month when NBC News reported that Roe and longtime DeSantis confidant Scott Wagner got into a heated argument while nine board members and some senior staff were discussing budgeting.

Wagner is now chairman of Never Back Down.

Never Back Down did not return a request for comment.

“We have full confidence in the NBD ground game and field operation, which is second to none," DeSantis campaign spokesman Andrew Romeo said. "There is a stellar team in place and we appreciate their independent efforts to fight for Ron DeSantis."