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Florida Republican backs Trump over Ron DeSantis

By Sarah May
|
April 24, 2023

As former President Donald Trump's primary fortunes continue to rise, a growing number of Republican lawmakers in his home state of Florida have given him their endorsements, with Rep. Carlos Gimenez (FL-28) among the latest to do so, as the Daily Mail reports.

The nod from Gimenez brings Trump's tally of congressional endorsements from the Sunshine State to 11, a particularly notable achievement given the expectation that Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis may also enter the race in the near future.

Gimenez endorses Trump

Speaking to the Mail on Friday, Gimenez provided his rationale in formally endorsing Trump's 2024 presidential campaign.

“I am proud to endorse President Donald J. Trump to serve as or next commander in chief to fight socialism both at home and abroad, rebuild our economy, and to secure and protect our nation so that America continues being the freest, most exceptional country in the history of the world,” the congressman said.

Elaborating on what underlies his support for the former president, Gimenez added, “I was born in Cuba and fled my native homeland shortly after the Communist takeover. In South Florida, we truly understand the value of freedom firsthand because so many of us know how it feels to live without it.”

Gimenez underscored the stark choice he believes American voters will face in the upcoming election, saying, “Under Joe Biden, America is less safe, less prosperous, and less free.”

Overwhelming support

As Forbes notes, Trump is on a massive winning streak when it comes to locking down endorsements from Florida Republicans, and he has now captured a majority of the state's congressional delegation, bringing in a slew of support just last week.

On Tuesday of last week, Republican Reps. John Rutherford (FL-05), Greg Steube (FL-17), and Brian Mast (FL-21) threw their support behind Trump.

Wednesday brought the endorsements of GOP Reps. Vern Buchanan (FL-16), Gus Bilirakis (FL-12), and Gimenez.

Rep. Michael Waltz (FL-06) added his name to the list of Trump backers on Thursday, with Reps. Matt Gaetz (FL-01), Anna Paulina Luna (FL-13), Cory Mills (FL-07), and Byron Donalds (FL-19) having already done so.

DeSantis in doubt?

Amid slipping poll numbers and a general sense that he is rapidly losing ground to Trump, DeSantis has, according to Forbes, been increasingly plagued by the idea that by sitting out the 2024 race, he stands a better chance of preserving his political prospects for the future.

As Steube suggested of DeSantis, “Floridians want him focused on Florida, which is the job they elected him to do,” and the governor currently boasts a 59% approval rating in the state.

There have also been rumblings from some in the GOP ranks that DeSantis has spent too much political capital fighting culture wars, such as his battle with the Walt Disney Co. over the Parental Rights in Education Act, with one high-ranking Florida Republican telling Politico, “We're not the party of cancel culture. We can't keep doing this tit for tat.”

Other top Republicans, such as Rep. Lance Gooden (TX-05) – who has also recently endorsed Trump – simply believe that the former president has what it takes to further the party's priorities. “I met with Governor DeSantis, and while he has done commendable work in Florida, there is no doubt in my mind that President Trump is the only leader who can save America from the leftist onslaught we are currently facing,” he said.

Trump triumphant

In characteristic fashion, Trump has not been shy about flaunting his recent endorsement haul, taking to his Truth Social platform last week to highlight a dinner he hosted at Mar-a-Lago for his supporters from Florida's congressional contingent, as The Hill reported.

“A great group of supportive Florida Congressmen and Congresswomen, all who have Endorsed me, will be coming to Mar-a-Lago tonight,” Trump posted.

The former president continued, “Our support is almost universal in Florida and throughout the USA. They remember fondly all of the incredible things I did while in office, one of the most successful Administrations in History.”

Though Trump currently appears to have significant tailwinds in terms of the GOP primary race, the field is almost certain to expand in the coming weeks, leaving open a host of possible twists and turns.