DeSantis to relocate many election campaign staff as part of heavy Iowa push

By James Oliphant

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Bolstered by an infusion of new cash, Republican candidate Ron DeSantis’ presidential bid is diverting more resources to Iowa, including relocating key members of his team there, his campaign said on Wednesday.

The moves reflect the crucial role Iowa, the state with the first Republican nominating contest on Jan. 15, plays for DeSantis. The Florida governor’s campaign has essentially made it a win-or-bust state because he badly trails Republican frontrunner Donald Trump in opinion polls in Iowa and elsewhere.

The DeSantis campaign on Wednesday reported raising $15 million during the third quarter, although not all of those funds will be available for use during the Republican primary. It was a lower take than the $20 million he raked in during the second quarter, a possible sign that donors are souring on DeSantis as he has failed to dent Trump’s commanding lead.

His campaign is planning to relocate about one-third of its staff, including aides who handle strategy and communications, to Iowa for the stretch run before the contest, the campaign said. The New York Times was the first media outlet to report the move.

“This significant fundraising haul not only provides us with the resources we need in the fight for Iowa and beyond, but it also shuts down the doubters who counted out Ron DeSantis for far too long,” campaign manager James Uthmeier said in a statement.

DeSantis is banking on Iowa’s socially conservative community, including evangelicals and other faith-based voters, to power him to a comeback victory, following the paths laid by other Republicans who have won the state’s contest in recent years, including U.S. Senator Ted Cruz and former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum.

DeSantis aims to campaign in all of Iowa’s 99 counties and is making an aggressive play for the vote in Iowa’s rural enclaves in contrast to Trump, the former president, who largely eschews such retail stumping in favor of large rallies.

(Reporting by James Oliphant, editing by Ross Colvin and Grant McCool)