Jeff Roe’s exit from pro-Ron DeSantis presidential super PAC latest in a slew of departures

Desantis never back down mail
Report: Chief strategist's departure from DeSantis' leading super PAC Never Back Down could upend the organization's operations.

The main strategist for Gov. Ron DeSantis’ leading super PAC resigned Saturday night adding to the slew of exits from the organization Never Back Down.

The departure of Jeff Roe, considered a top Republican operative and mastermind of Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s 2021 victory, rippled through social media Saturday night. With Sunday marking 29 days before the Iowa Caucus, it’s coming at a moment considered pivotal to the Governor’s continued viability as a presidential candidate.

Former President Donald J. Trump celebrated the departure from his rival’s camp on Truth Social: “Jeff Roe is out — GAME OVER for DeSanctimonious.”

Roe’s resignation, first breaking in the Washington Post, was said to be related to comments published in the Post earlier Saturday from Scott Wagner, a DeSantis loyalist who serves as vice Chair of the South Florida Water Management District Board. He had been named Never Back Down’s interim CEO and board Chairman upon several high-profile exits two weeks ago.

Wagner told the Post that the three firings at Never Back Down — a chief executive and two others top officials who worked under Roe — were related to “mismanagement and conduct issues” and unauthorized leaks. The Post reported that a lawyer for those employees contacted Wagner, who then revised his statement to add hedges to those accusations.

Roe acted swiftly.

“I can’t believe it ended this way,” Roe posted on X late Saturday about four hours after the Post’s story was published, attached to another statement that he hoped DeSantis would be the 47th President. “I am proud to have worked alongside these men and women at NBD 24/7 the past nine months to save the country. Good luck in the next 28 days and a wake up. I’m so sorry I can’t be there with you.”

Roe’s departure leaves the future of the super PAC unclear, according to New York Times reporting. Roe’s allies hold many of the most important positions in the group, and his company, Axiom, has helped staff early state efforts for the super PAC. Whether they all remain in place is unclear, the newspaper reported.

Efforts to reach the DeSantis campaign and Wagner Sunday were not immediately successful.

The unique nature of Never Back Down, which has raised $130 million for DeSantis since July, was noted in the New York Times article on Roe’s firing, which called the super PAC “something of a Frankenstein’s monster in its composition.” It has come under some criticism as violating rules that govern the level of coordination allowed between a candidate’s campaign and its PACs.

The turmoil at the super PAC has accelerated as it’s become increasingly clear that DeSantis has been unable to rise in the polls despite his efforts and expense.

Kristin Davison spent two weeks leading Never Back Down before departing Dec. 2. She filled the role that former Never Back Down CEO Chris Jankowski left Nov. 22.

Also leaving earlier this month were communications director Erin Perrine and director of operations Matt Palmisano, according to Associated Press reporting. They followed the Nov. 27 exit of Adam Laxalt, former Nevada Attorney General, who had been the Never Back Down Chairman.

Roe, also a veteran of Sen. Ted Cruz’s 2016 presidential campaign, joined Never Back Down in March, when DeSantis’ early strength in the polls started slipping.

Roe Saturday night quoted Martin Luther King Jr. in his statement posted on X about the ultimate measure of a man comes in times of challenge and controversy.

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

Roe, in his post, wished DeSantis, his wife and the entire team the best through the rest of the campaign.

Anne Geggis

Anne Geggis is a South Florida journalist who began her career in Vermont and has worked at the Sun-Sentinel, the Daytona Beach News-Journal and the Gainesville Sun covering government issues, health and education. She was a member of the Sun-Sentinel team that won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the Parkland high school shooting. You can reach her on Twitter @AnneBoca or by emailing [email protected].


  • Michael K

    December 17, 2023 at 11:19 am

    More rats fleeing a sinking ship. Buh bye!

    Citizens United was one of the worst SCOTUS decisions in recent years. It is destroying our democracy.

    • Earl Pitts "Sage Expert on Political Matters" American

      December 17, 2023 at 12:38 pm

      Well America, me, Earl Pitts American, and our next POTUS were just talking sports and politics when Ron said; “Earl since we have your “Sage and Briliant Political Mind” do we really need Jeff”?
      And I, Earl Pitts American, said; No Ron we dont need Jeff but he’s been a pretty good employee what say we allow Jeff to resigne rather than fire him”?

      • rick whitaker

        December 17, 2023 at 2:54 pm


    • Hunter Rocks!

      December 18, 2023 at 8:08 pm

      If we lived in a democracy I might agree with you.

  • Dont Say FLA

    December 17, 2023 at 11:44 am

    Jeff Roe’s departure could upend the organization’s operations?

    Is that supposed to mean the Never Bend Over PAC might start to see some success with their candidate, Rhonda?

    It can’t mean that.

    Rhonda is still Rhonda, even with yet another departure from Never Bend Over PAC, and Everybody Hates Rhonda

    “Upended operations” must mean Casey ‘s _officially_ flying solo now.

    • Tom

      December 17, 2023 at 11:59 am

      I’d assume it means that Casey and Rhonda think they know everything and won’t leave the people who know what they’re doing alone. Can’t be easy running such a deeply flawed and thoroughly unlikeable candidate. I feel bad for the rats but understand why they’d want to bail.

      • Earl Pitts "Sage Expert on Political Matters" American

        December 18, 2023 at 9:11 am

        Good Morn’Ting Tom & Dont Say,
        For “Sage Holiday Party Talking Points” on the entire “Roe Thing” please review my, Earl Pitts American’s” golden nuggets of wisdom in my above commentary.
        This way both of you will be armed with the knowledge to slap-down your stupid brother-in-law at the family Christmas Party.
        You are welcome,
        Earl Pitts American

        • Dont Say FLA

          December 19, 2023 at 8:22 am

          You could be onto something, pops! Maybe he just was not needed. Could be.

          If I were to place a bet for why rich dudes keep leaving in droves from the Ron campaign, my money would be on Casey trying to make them her next husband.

  • Sonja Fitch

    December 18, 2023 at 4:43 am

    Lol lol lol ! Damn Desantis your money supporters are showing you, get out ! Actually I am enjoying the Republican poopey show! Got bets on who the Republicans finally end of with! It ain’t Trump or Desantis!

  • My Take

    December 18, 2023 at 7:39 am

    The còming end to the DeSScamus campaign … what will it look like?

  • My Take

    December 18, 2023 at 6:08 pm

    “I will protect our people from public poopers!”
    You mean that wasn’t enough for nomination?
    What’s the matter? Is Iowa OK with pubic poopers?

Comments are closed.


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