Another Ron DeSantis Campaign Reset

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks to guests at Ashley's BBQ Bash hosted by Rep. Ashley Hinson on August 6, 2023 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Happy Wednesday! At least one of your Dispatch Politics writers is addicted to GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley’s #cornwatch updates. We implore you to watch the Iowa senator’s latest.

Up to Speed

  • Former Vice President Mike Pence said Tuesday that he has qualified for the first Republican presidential debate this month in Milwaukee. He will join fellow qualifying candidates Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, biotech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie in what’s shaping up to be a crowded debate stage. Former President Donald Trump has also qualified for the debate under the Republican National Committee’s donor and polling rules but has not yet committed to attending the event, which will air on Fox News. 
  • Meanwhile, Politico reports that Fox Business will host the second GOP debate, along with Spanish-language network Univision and with Rumble, a right-wing video-hosting site that competes with YouTube. The exact date for next month’s debate has not been set, but it will be held at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute in Simi Valley, California.
  • White House communications director Ben LaBolt said Tuesday that President Joe Biden will tape an interview with the Weather Channel at the Grand Canyon to discuss “his plan to combat climate change, addressing the threat posed by extreme weather and to promote resilience.” Reporter sit-down interviews with Biden are rare. As New York Times reporter Michael Shear put it back in April: “In the 100 years since Calvin Coolidge took office, only Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan held as few news conferences each year as the current occupant of the Oval Office.”
  • GOP Gov. Tate Reeves of Mississippi sailed to victory in Tuesday’s Republican gubernatorial primary with roughly 75 percent of the vote, early vote totals show. Reeves will face uncontested Democrat Brandon Presley, cousin of the late singer Elvis Presley, in November’s general election.

DeSantis Reboot Reset ‘Reload’ Catches Staff Off Guard

Campaign staffers for Ron DeSantis were surprised to learn Tuesday morning that Generra Peck, the Florida governor’s loyal campaign manager, was being replaced. 

Not long after learning the news internally, staffers saw The Messenger first report that DeSantis’ chief of staff in the governor’s office, James Uthmeier, would be taking the reins from Peck, who is remaining with the campaign in an advisory role. David Polyansky, a senior adviser at the pro-DeSantis super PAC Never Back Down, is also joining as deputy campaign manager. The moves were just the latest in what has become a weeks-long reshuffling of the Republican’s presidential campaign that included firing 38 staffers, shifting its media strategy, and scheduling more events for DeSantis to attend.

But what was once seen as a necessary, if late, change for DeSantis as he struggled to challenge frontrunner Donald Trump is now causing Republicans to wonder how many more resets—or “reloads,” as The Messenger reports the campaign is calling this latest move—the candidate can make. It’s also unclear what substantive change Uthmeier, perceived as an ally of Peck, will bring to the DeSantis campaign.

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