Trump Gains Support from Half of Florida’s House Republicans, Putting Pressure on DeSantis’ Presidential Ambitions

Former President Donald Trump has gained support from at least half of Florida’s 20 House Republicans, with several coming out for him just this week alone.[0] Trump has picked up the support of Reps. Matt Gaetz, Anna Paulina Luna, Cory Mills, and Byron Donalds, a DeSantis ally who introduced him at his 2022 election night victory party.[1] Meanwhile, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who has long been thought to be the biggest challenger to Trump for the 2024 GOP nomination, only has three endorsements from the 118th Congress: Representatives Thomas Massie of Kentucky, Chip Roy of Texas, and Laurel Lee of Florida.[2] DeSantis’ political operation had begun reaching out to other members of the Florida delegation, pleading with them to hold off on jumping to Trump, but Trump’s endorsements in DeSantis’ own backyard continue to grow.[1]

Despite DeSantis’ popularity in Florida, he could be at risk of alienating voters in the key 2024 state by pursuing a national campaign push at the apparent detriment of governing.[3] Donors, activists, and other supporters are increasingly voicing worries that DeSantis has made unforced errors or embraced extreme positions that could hurt him in a general election, including the abortion ban he signed last week.[4] He’s had to clarify comments on Ukraine that prompted some criticism in the party.[4] Some Republicans perceive him as aloof in personal interactions.[4] Despite DeSantis being persistently targeted by Trump, the former president has gained momentum in national polls and secured significant endorsements both in Florida and other regions.[4]

DeSantis’ recent travels have attracted scores of Republicans intrigued by the governor’s track record of conservative victories in Florida.[5] Despite not officially joining the race, surveys consistently indicate that he is the frontrunner to impede Trump from obtaining a third nomination.[5] His mere existence has been instrumental in aiding local Republican organizations to amass significant amounts of funds. During his visit to New Hampshire last Friday, the state GOP received almost four times the amount of the highest fundraiser in its history.[5]

DeSantis’ downturn in fortunes also reveals the extent to which the Florida governor, and other Republicans, have badly misjudged Trump’s own rise.[6] He shows the clear desire to imitate the ex-president’s pugilistic style and to replicate his penchant for picking big culture-war fights.[6] But Trump won in 2016 in large part for two reasons that DeSantis-and any Republican, for that matter-will struggle to replicate.[6] One was that Trump was able to moderate on some positions during the campaign without taking a lot of blowback, most notably on the matters of Social Security and Medicare; he actually kept himself at a distance from some of the GOP’s most reactionary and unpopular positions.[6] Running to his right on abortion, as DeSantis and others will do, is likely a mistake-despite the fact that Trump is ultimately the person most responsible for gutting Roe v. Wade.[6] But more importantly, DeSantis doesn’t understand that Trump’s recklessness, the very thing to which the Florida governor is trying to present himself as an alternative, is the very key to the former president’s popularity.[6] For many voters, it underlined the fact that Trump was not a politician-like DeSantis-and that he would govern differently from a typical Republican.[6] Once in office, he largely didn’t deviate from party doctrine, but a glimmer of that authenticity remains-DeSantis has none of it.[6]

Despite DeSantis’ efforts to rally congressional Republicans in DC on Tuesday night, it seems to have had the opposite effect, as Florida lawmakers are still firmly backing Trump for the 2024 presidential election.[7] Seven members of Florida’s congressional delegation, including three this week, have endorsed Trump over DeSantis, while one, Rep. Laurel Lee, who is also a former Florida secretary of state, is backing a DeSantis run.[8]

0. “Trump runs up the score in DeSantis’ backyard with endorsements” NBC News, 19 Apr. 2023,

1. “2024 Republican endorsements: Donald Trump has been embarrassing Ron DeSantis in Florida.” Slate, 20 Apr. 2023,

2. “How Donald Trump’s Presidential Endorsements Compare to Ron DeSantis” Newsweek, 21 Apr. 2023,

3. “Ron DeSantis Risks Spreading Himself Too Thin” Newsweek, 21 Apr. 2023,

4. “DeSantis 2024 presidential momentum cools with Trump dominating polls” The Washington Post, 20 Apr. 2023,

5. “DeSantis allies prepare for financial show of force as Florida governor seeks to overcome early stumbles” CNN, 20 Apr. 2023,

6. “Ron DeSantis Is Having an Epic Disaster of a Week” The New Republic, 19 Apr. 2023,

7. “Ron DeSantis’ swing through DC was a Republican endorsement bust” Business Insider, 19 Apr. 2023,

8. “Exclusive: 2 More Florida Congressmen Plan to Endorse Trump” TIME, 19 Apr. 2023,

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