The Never Back Down Super Pac finally backed down and abandoned Ron DeSantis.
Never Back Down officials said they were reinvesting in the first three primary states and criticized what they see as a pro-Trump effort to tilt primary rules in his favor elsewhere.
Never Back Down, the super PAC backing Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ presidential campaign, has ceased its door-knocking operations in Nevada, home to a key early nominating contest, and California, a delegate-rich Super Tuesday state, officials confirmed Wednesday.
They added that in recent weeks, the group also ended its field operations in North Carolina and Texas, two additional states that vote on Super Tuesday in March.
Never Back Down had pitched a wide-ranging canvassing effort throughout the early nominating states as the centerpiece of its effort to help boost DeSantis in the primary — even letting reporters inside its door-knocking boot camp in Iowa where it trained hundreds of canvassers earlier this year. The super PAC had planned to spend $100 million on the effort.
The decision to fold its door-knocking operations in Nevada and some Super Tuesday states coincides with DeSantis’ rough summer, which has featured him struggling to gain traction against the GOP front-runner, former President Donald Trump, since launching his campaign in late May. In recent weeks, DeSantis’ campaign has publicly promoted resets and staff shake-ups as he seeks to generate momentum.
At its peak, Never Back Down employed more than 250 field staffers in those four states, though some had departed prior to the shutdown. In recent weeks, some of those who were assigned to the areas where there are cuts were offered opportunities elsewhere, including on door-knocking teams stood up by the super PAC in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina — early nominating states where the pro-DeSantis allies continue to knock on doors — officials said.
“We want to reinvest in the first three,” Erin Perrine, a spokesperson for the super PAC, told NBC News, nodding to Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina and noting that it is ramping up its spending on advertising. “We see real opportunities in the first three. The first three are going to set the conditions for the March states.”
What’s more, super PAC officials said the decisions to pull out of Nevada and California were driven by what they see as pro-Trump efforts to tilt the primary rules in his favor and make it less likely that a rival could knock him off.
In Nevada, the Democratic-dominated Legislature revamped its presidential primary system, eliminating caucuses in favor of a traditional state-run primary. The move stemmed from a push by the Democratic National Committee to move away from caucuses in 2024. The Nevada Republican Party, however, has pushed back on the change, demanding to hold a party-run primary anyway.
It took the matter to court, where a Carson City judge denied the GOP bid, saying it could not block a state-run primary. The party now is appealing the matter to the state Supreme Court. A caucus run by the state party is considered advantageous to Trump, given that several members of the party acted as false electors for him in 2020, and some earlier this year traveled to Mar-a-Lago.
Perrine blasted Nevada GOP Chairman Michael McDonald as a “Trump puppet” who is “conducting that caucus/primary, primary/caucus routine that he’s doing.”
“When you have that kind of uncertainty about how the election’s going to be conducted, that becomes a pretty unstable environment to be investing the kind of resources that we’re investing,” she said.
McDonald did not immediately respond to a request for comment.