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HomeU.SA New Group Linked to DeSantis Allies Pops Up in Iowa

A New Group Linked to DeSantis Allies Pops Up in Iowa

A new political group with ties to Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida began reserving airtime in Iowa on Monday, a surprising new player in the 2024 Republican primary that has emerged with less than two months until the Iowa caucuses.

The reservations — more than $700,000 as of early Monday afternoon — were being made by an entity called Fight Right, according to AdImpact, a media-tracking company. A nonprofit by that name, Fight Right Inc., was registered in Florida last week and a super PAC with the same name was also registered with the Federal Election Commission by a Tallahassee-based treasurer, state and federal records show.

The ads, which will begin on Thanksgiving, are expected to oppose Nikki Haley, the former South Carolina governor, according to AdImpact. Ms. Haley has steadily risen in the polls, though both she and Mr. DeSantis still trail far behind the front-runner, Donald J. Trump.

The emergence of a new pro-DeSantis group at this stage of the race is unusual, in part because Mr. DeSantis has worked so closely with Never Back Down, his primary super PAC, after transferring $82.5 million to the group this year.

Since then, however, tensions have flared between Never Back Down and the DeSantis campaign over strategy, including over a publicly posted memo ahead of the first debate that left Mr. DeSantis angry and frustrated. Earlier in the summer, the campaign wrote a memo of its own that appeared to second-guess some of the super PAC’s tactics.

The new Florida nonprofit, Fight Right Inc., listed three directors on its state filing, all of whom have ties to Mr. DeSantis, including Jeff Aaron, a Florida lawyer and DeSantis appointee who incorporated the group. The two other listed directors are David Dewhirst, a lawyer whose LinkedIn page described him as a senior adviser in the governor’s office, and Scott Ross, a managing partner at a Tallahassee lobbying firm, Capital City Consulting, which has been closely aligned with Mr. DeSantis.

New entities such as Fight Right sometimes spring up in the middle of a campaign to fulfill the strategic wishes of donors, and it was unclear what specifically led to the creation of Fight Right. AdImpact showed that the same firm that has reserved Never Back Down’s advertising, AxMedia, reserved the airtime for the new group.

The DeSantis campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Mr. Aaron and Mr. Ross did not respond to emails and Mr. Dewhirst could not be reached immediately.

Mr. DeSantis has banked much of his candidacy on a strong showing in Iowa, where the most recent Des Moines Register/NBC News/Mediacom poll showed Mr. Trump far ahead. Mr. Trump had 43 percent support and Mr. DeSantis was tied with Ms. Haley at 16 percent.

Super PACs for Mr. DeSantis and Ms. Haley have spent millions of dollars in recent weeks attacking one another.

Candidates and super PACs are legally forbidden from coordinating on strategy in private. But the DeSantis campaign and Never Back Down have worked together exceptionally closely, with the super PAC renting a bus in recent months to take the governor across Iowa and organizing campaign stops to help him fulfill his promise to appear in all of the state’s 99 counties.

Over the weekend, Mr. DeSantis visited his 98th county, leaving only one remaining. He also appeared for the first time aboard his own campaign bus.

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