Home » Top New Hampshire Strategist Joins DeSantis Super PAC, Won’t Wait on Sununu (Exclusive)
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Top New Hampshire Strategist Joins DeSantis Super PAC, Won’t Wait on Sununu (Exclusive)

Aformer top state party official who played a central role in New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu’s first statewide win will run a super PAC supporting Gov. Ron DeSantis, the Messenger has exclusively learned.

Ross Berry, the state Republican Party’s former executive director, was named state director of the Never Back Down PAC, where he’ll run its ground-game operation for DeSantis and help secure the endorsements needed for a presidential campaign in the retail politics-focused state. 

While Sununu has his own stable of long-time advisors he can tap for a presidential run, Berry’s decision deprives him of a key ally as he ponders whether to jump in the race. 

“I will say if he gets in the race, it’s going to be really freaking weird for everybody,” said New Hampshire Republican House Majority Leader Jason Osborne, who endorsed DeSantis earlier this month and is a close personal friend of Berry. “I don’t know what that’s going to look like.”

The weirdness, at least for Sununu, is that people who work just down the hall from him in New Hampshire’s small statehouse are already making other plans. In 2016, Berry helped orchestrate Sununu’s win – the first time a Republican won the New Hampshire governor’s race in 13 years.

“Ross was responsible for the only GOP pickup in 2018, was instrumental in 2020 in taking back the New Hampshire House, and has a penchant for winning primaries,” Osborne said. “Having him on the Never Back Down team will make him a key resource for their efforts as well as electing New Hampshire House Republicans in 2024.”

Sununu is expected to make a decision about his own presidential aspirations by mid-June, giving DeSantis’ team several weeks of a head start. A spokesman for Sununu did not respond to a request for comment.

The new hire bolsters the DeSantis campaign’s efforts to slingshot out of Iowa with a come-from-behind-win over Donald Trump and then capture New Hampshire, as first reported by The Messenger

Berry, who declined to comment, was recently elected to serve as a state representative from the south side of Manchester, the state’s largest city. He laid low in the Trump years, buying and growing a childcare center with his wife and starting a family earlier this year. 

State of the New Hampshire Primary

Polls of likely Republican voters in New Hampshire show Trump has a double-digit lead over DeSantis, who comes in second and is statistically tied with Sununu in some recent surveys in the state.

No one has polled Granite Staters since DeSantis formally entered the race Wednesday.

“Despite the super PAC supporting DeSantis spending significant funds on both television and in the mail, the governor’s numbers have declined,” said Neil Levesque, director of the Saint Anselm College Survey Center, based in New Hampshire. “In recent weeks the PAC supporting Trump has purchased even larger amounts of television in an effort to permanently disable DeSantis. The big question so far in the 2024 race is what is the special formula for chipping away at Trump’s lead, and to date, no candidate has found it.”

Sununu previously told The Messenger that, if he doesn’t run for president, he plans to endorse in the race. He does not support Trump, with whom the New Hampshire governor has traded insults over the years.

Within hours of DeSantis’s formal announcement, the PAC said it deployed paid employees for the first time to knock on over 4,000 doors in New Hampshire. It also recently opened its first office in Nashua, and plans to open more offices soon.

DeSantis will make his third trip to New Hampshire in a month later this week, where his schedule appears focused on the state’s largest cities.

David Polyansky, a senior adviser to Never Back Down, said the PAC plans to spend as much as $200 million supporting DeSantis’ campaign machine, with half of that dedicated to field operations like knocking on doors, calling voters, and representing DeSantis at state political events. 

“We’re the offensive line,” Polyansky said. “Ultimately, it’s going to be a GOTV machine in the states. Our job is to do the unglamorous but absolutely critical blocking needed to pave the way toward victory.”

Polyansky said there are five paid staffers in the state. The PAC previously hired Ethan Zorfas, another Republican operative who served as chief of staff for the state’s last Republican member of its congressional delegation more than six years ago. 

Source: The Messenger