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DeSantis Faces New Setback From Voter Outreach Halted in Nevada, California

(Bloomberg) -- A super PAC backing Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has shuttered door-knocking operations in early voting Nevada, as well as California, in the latest cut to the Republican presidential contender’s campaign.

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Officials from the super political action committee, Never Back Down, confirmed Thursday the group plans to halt door-to-door canvassing in those states to preserve resources for early voting Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.

“We want to reinvest in the first three, we see real opportunities,” Never Back Down communications director Erin Perrine said about the decision to focus on those states. “The first three are going to set the conditions for the March states.”

The pause in the door-knocking operations in California and Nevada was first reported by NBC News.

The move follows a difficult stretch for the DeSantis campaign which has suffered from missteps, donor angst about spending, and a leadership shakeup as the governor has slid in the polls. As the campaign has struggled, the super PAC has taken on more of the campaigning costs. The retreat from California and Nevada suggests the DeSantis political operation is scaling back its ambitions.

Never Back Down has taken on a sizable role, performing much of the work typically carried out by a presidential candidate’s campaign, including devising the game plan for Iowa — the first GOP caucus state — and by deciding where DeSantis goes and who he meets, according to donors.

Earlier: DeSantis’s Campaign Isn’t Fully In Charge of DeSantis’s Campaign

The relationship between the super PAC and campaign was pushed into the spotlight earlier this month after a trove of documents offering advice for DeSantis ahead of the first Republican presidential debate were posted on the website for Axiom Strategies, the firm founded by longtime Republican operative Jeff Roe. Roe is a strategist for Never Back Down.

The super PAC expressed concerns with the process for candidates obtaining delegates. In the current cycle, more states will award delegates through winner-take-all-primaries, a system that helped Trump in 2016 when his opponents divided the vote, allowing him to be awarded all or most delegates with less than majority support.

“When they changed it to a proportional, statewide winner-take-all, that completely eliminated the opportunity for grassroots campaigning,” Perrine said.

Read more: Trump Changed the Rules to Make Winning the Nomination Easier

Never Back Down raised specific concerns with Nevada, which abandoned its caucus system for a traditional primary system — a move the state Republican party opposed.

“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,” Perrine said.

California’s Republican Party late last month also changed the delegate-allocation rules to award a Republican presidential candidate who receives more than 50% of the vote in the state’s March primary all of the delegates.

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