Former Trump adviser Steve Cortes has stepped down from his role at the Never Back Down super PAC, Breitbart reported. The pro-Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis organization announced Cortes's departure Tuesday.
"Steve launched his own show and left his role as a spokesman for Never Back Down. He will continue to support Governor DeSantis in his personal capacity," Erin Perrine, spokeswoman for the group, said in a statement.
Cortes had a prominent role in the super PAC but previously admitted the GOP primary for the 2024 presidential election would be an "uphill battle" for DeSantis. "Right now in national polling, we are way behind, I’ll be the first to admit that," Cortes said in July during a Twitter spaces interview.
The Florida Republican is 49 points behind former President Donald Trump as the primary season looms on the horizon. Cortes nearly admitted defeat for DeSantis during an interview last month.
"It is a rematch that nobody wants, yet it seems at this moment to be inevitable," Cortes said about a repeat of the 2020 presidential election between Trump and President Joe Biden. During his tenure with the DeSantis fundraising organization, Cortes expressed "high praise of Trump in some public appearances had caught attention among Republicans," Maggie Haberman of the New York Times noted.
This recent departure marks yet another negative indicator for the beleaguered governor. Trump has consistently attacked DeSantis for being "inept," which was previously considered blasphemy within the Republican Party but is beginning to stick like glue to the governor.
"He has proven to be a terrible and inept candidate who even fought Social Security and MediCare," Trump said on his TruthSocial platform. "He will SOON be out of money and dropping out of the race for President," the former president predicted.
"After having single handidly gotten him elected Governor, with no thanks or glory, it has been a beautiful thing to watch. Good luck Ron!" Trump concluded.
Conventional wisdom initially had the GOP choosing an alternative like DeSantis over Trump for 2024. After all, DeSantis was riding high last November after winning his reelection by nearly 20 points, the New York Times reported.
Leading up to the 2022 election, Trump was already attacking DeSantis and conferred on him the moniker "Ron DeSanctimonious." This didn't seem to move the needle one bit away from DeSantis in the gubernatorial race, and initially, this seemed like a good indication that he was going to give Trump a run for his money in the presidential race.
However, that popularity in Forida hasn't translated to a significant lead for DeSantis in the polls against Trump for the GOP nomination. In fact, Trump continues to pull ahead of DeSantis and even Biden in recent polls.
In a Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll conducted in September, Trump bested Biden by a solid six points, The Hill reported. This came amid a fresh barrage of indictments against Trump, that apparently had no effect on his popularity.
“The indictment of former [President Trump] has [had] no impact on his lead against Biden, whose job rating remains at 43 percent,” the poll's co-director Mark Penn said at the time. Notably, the poll also showed DeSantis and Biden in a statistical tie with 41% and 40%, respectively.
There's no denying that DeSantis is in trouble despite Trump's significant baggage. The fact that he can't muster a lead, considering his stellar track record and Trump's problems, is almost unfathomable.