(Bloomberg) -- The super political action committee backing Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ presidential bid canceled a donor event this week due to a lack of interest from invitees, according to people familiar with the matter, the latest sign of the fresh tumult surrounding his 2024 run.
The group, Never Back Down, planned to hold a luncheon ahead of the fourth Republican primary debate in Tuscaloosa, Alabama — the site of the forum — according to the people who requested anonymity to discuss the cancellation. About 3,000 people were invited to purchase tickets.
A $10,000 contribution would have given donors access to the lunch, where the governor’s wife, Casey DeSantis, was scheduled to speak, as well as a ticket to the debate itself and an invite to a post-debate celebration with the governor, according to an invitation.
Days prior to Wednesday’s debate, Never Back Down decided to cancel the lunch. Scott Wagner, who leads the super PAC, cited a lack of interest as the explanation in his communication to the board, the people said.
One donor said he still attended an after-party following the debate, where the governor shook hands and took selfies with guests.
A spokesperson for Never Back Down did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Wagner also did not respond to a request for comment.
Similar events in Miami around the November Republican debate raised roughly $1 million for the super PAC. Those included a dinner for roughly 70 people with DeSantis and Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds, a lunch with DeSantis’ wife at the Mandarin Oriental, and a post-debate party for hundreds of donors.
The last-minute cancellation highlights DeSantis’ political struggles and signals a lack of enthusiasm among his financial backers. DeSantis entered the race as the best-funded and most buzzed about Republican alternative to former President Donald Trump, but infighting between his campaign and Never Back Down, overspending, and sliding poll numbers have dampened his momentum.
Earlier: DeSantis Campaign in Turmoil as Republican Primary Looms
The canceled event comes shortly after Never Back Down underwent a leadership shakeup, which resulted in three top officials departing the organization within weeks. Wagner, one of DeSantis’ closest allies and a Miami-based attorney, took over the group earlier this month. Phil Cox, who worked on the governor’s 2022 reelection campaign, also joined Never Back Down this week as a senior adviser.
With just weeks until the Iowa caucuses, the DeSantis campaign faces a challenge in convincing Republican voters to support the Florida governor. He has not been able to pry voters away from Trump’s strong grip on the base, and recently, former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley has eaten into DeSantis’ support in Iowa and New Hampshire.
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