Republican presidential candidate Ron DeSantis is replacing his campaign manager as the Florida governor continues to reset his stagnant presidential campaign. The Florida governor is bringing on James Uthmeier, his chief of staff from his state office, to serve as his campaign manager, replacing Generra Peck, who led DeSantis’ reelection campaign last year before jumping into the same role on his presidential bid.
Peck will stay on as a strategist. The changes come after DeSantis made two big staff cuts in the past few weeks, laying off about a third of his staff in late July as the campaign faced financial trouble.
“James Uthmeier has been one of Governor DeSantis’ top advisers 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,” campaign spokesman Andrew Romeo said in a statement.
Politico in October obtained text messages that showed Uthmeier was involved in Florida’s program to fly migrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard last year.
NBC News reported in June that while Uthmeier remained in DeSantis’ government office, he was also working as a political fundraiser for the governor’s presidential campaign. The arrangement was unusual, and government watchdog groups said it raised ethical questions.
Before he worked for DeSantis, Uthmeier worked in the Trump administration for U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. His work on the efforts to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census later became part of a congressional committee investigation.
Uthmeier will be on a leave of absence from the governor’s office. Florida’s Secretary of Commerce Alex Kelly will serve as acting chief of staff and work with senior adviser David Dewhirst, office spokesman Jeremy Redfern said.
DeSantis is also hiring an operative who was working on a super PAC that had been supporting his campaign. David Polyansky, who had been advising Never Back Down, will join the campaign as a deputy campaign manager.
Romeo said Polyansky will be a critical addition to the team given his previous experience working in early voting Iowa, which has become a proving ground for the DeSantis campaign.
Polyansky worked on the presidential campaigns of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz in 2016 and Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann in 2012. In Iowa, he helped Joni Ernst first win election to the U.S. Senate in 2014 and helped Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee win in the Iowa Republican presidential caucuses in 2008.
Polyansky was traveling with DeSantis in Iowa to events sponsored by Never Back Down on Saturday. He also attended an event DeSantis spoke to on behalf of Iowa Attorney General Brenna Bird on Saturday, as part of Never Back Down’s organizing presence apart from DeSantis’ official campaign.
The staff shakeup was first reported by The Messenger on Tuesday.
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