DeSantis Allies Pressure Florida Lawmakers Against Endorsing Trump

Supporters of Ron DeSantis, the Florida governor, who is considering a run for president, have begun pressing members of the state’s Republican congressional delegation to hold off on any endorsements in the brewing presidential primary after four House members from Florida publicly backed Donald J. Trump.

The effort, first reported by NBC News, was indicative of the growing concern in Mr. DeSantis’s orbit that the former president was building a significant structural advantage as the governor considers jumping in. One Republican familiar with the calls, who insisted on anonymity in order to discuss private conversations, said that Mr. DeSantis had been “blindsided” by the Trump endorsements from Representatives Byron Donalds, Matt Gaetz, Anna Paulina Luna and Cory Mills, all staunch supporters of the former president who also backed Mr. DeSantis’s re-election last year.

It also shows how important the megastate of Florida will be in 2024. Once a general election battleground, Florida has drifted out of reach for Democrats. But with Florida’s governor and arguably its most famous resident, Mr. Trump of Palm Beach, battling for endorsements, donors and voters, the Republican primary will be a local brawl, assuming Mr. DeSantis jumps in.

The calls, led by Ryan Tyson, a Florida pollster, and his political team based in Tallahassee, have reached Representatives Kat Cammack, Vern Buchanan, Mario Diaz-Balart, Greg Steube, Aaron Bean and Laurel Lee. Others in the 20-member Republican delegation from Florida are almost certainly on the call list, another Republican official familiar with the effort said on Thursday.

“Yeah, they have reached out,” Mr. Steube confirmed to The Sarasota Herald-Tribune. “When we are ready to endorse a candidate for president, we will.”

The endorsement of Mr. Trump by Mr. Donalds was especially stinging, coming from one of the few Black Republicans in the U.S. House and a former member of the Florida House of Representatives. Mr. Donalds introduced the governor at his victory party on election night in November.

Mr. Donalds wrote in his endorsement on Monday that “2024 isn’t simply an election.” He continued: “It is an inflection point in our nation’s history, and it is an inflection point in world history. . There is only one leader at this time in our nation’s history who can seize this moment and deliver what we need.”

The calls may be having an impact, according to the sources familiar with them. Mr. Tyson’s team was told by some members that no more endorsements were imminent.

Neil Vigdor contributed reporting.

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