With the first 2024 presidential primary now just over five months away, there is little time to waste – a point that likely wasn’t lost on Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who currently trails former President Donald Trump by a wide margin.
Many political pundits have expressed their opinions that with Trump facing numerous legal issues at both the federal and state level, almost anything can happen, and much already has.
It was just on Tuesday that DeSantis replaced his campaign manager Generra Peck with James Uthmeier, who had served as chief of staff for the Florida governor, who will now lead the efforts. This was the third major reshuffling of his campaign and Peck has been shifted to the role of chief strategist.
Ron DeSantis Makes a Big Move
“James Uthmeier has been one of Governor DeSantis’ top advisors 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,” DeSantis spokesman Andrew Romeo said in a statement.
Peck guided DeSantis last fall during his blowout re-election in the Sunshine State, but she has become the subject of criticism from many of the governor’s advisors as the presidential campaign has stalled and donations have all but dried up.
The campaign has been forced twice already to cut staff and expenses. Upwards of 40 percent of his initial staff was let go in an attempt to cut costs.
Donors and high-profile supporters urged Ron DeSantis to consider a change at the top of his political operation.
There was a view that the campaign did not send a clear message to voters. In addition, the controversial governor – who is infamously engaged in a very public battle with Disney as part of his culture war efforts – has become more available to the mainstream media.
Chief of Staff to Campaign Manager?
Uthmeier has served as DeSantis’ chief of staff since October 2021, while he also worked as the governor’s general counsel before he became his top aide.
According to Politico, Uthmeier has only taken an unpaid leave of absence from the administration to work on the campaign and is not resigning permanently from his job as chief of staff.
That has already created some controversy in the Sunshine State.
Via a statement, Nikki Fried, the chair of the Florida Democratic Party, said that allowing Uthmeier to take a leave of absence is “a blatant middle finger to the people of Florida — who’s actually going to run the state while he’s gone? It’s certainly not Ron [DeSantis].”
Not a Reboot – But Yeah, It’s a Reboot
Uthmeier has so far dismissed that this is a reboot – and The Messenger reported on Tuesday that the very word “reboot” is despised by the campaign, which favors calling it a “reload” that will deliver victory in the primaries and then in the general election in November 2024.
“People have written Governor DeSantis’s obituary many times,” Uthmeier said in a written statement to The Messenger. “From his race against establishment primary candidate Adam Putnam, to his victory over legacy media-favored candidate Andrew Gillum [in 2018], to his twenty-point win over Charlie Crist [in 2022], Governor DeSantis has proven that he knows how to win. He’s breaking records on fundraising and has a supporting super PAC with $100 million in the bank and an incredible ground game. Get ready.”
Regardless of whether this is a reboot or reload, it is DeSantis – under new campaign management – who will be the one who has to prove he is ready for the first debate, which is scheduled to take place on August 23 in Milwaukee.
Even if former President Donald Trump is a no-show, it could be the do-or-die moment for DeSantis.
Author Experience and Expertise
A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.