Though he has yet to formally declare his candidacy, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis appears to be weighing whether to enter the race for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.
This week, he embarked on a trip to “demonstrate strength with the Washington establishment,” Politico reported, but had his spotlight dimmed when three Republicans from his own state chose to endorse his challenger, and the frontrunner for the nomination, former President Donald Trump.
DeSantis “is in a much weaker position now than he was a few months ago. Trump is in a much stronger position,” Sarah Longwell, a moderate Republican strategist, told Politico. DeSantis, she said, has “had a tough few weeks.”
According to the report, DeSantis is planning to formally enter the presidential race after Florida’s legislative session ends in a few weeks.
“DeSantis is in D.C. to try locking up some endorsements for himself because every time Trump picks up another endorsement, he gets a whole news cycle out of it,” Longwell said. “DeSantis is on the precipice of Trump seeming inevitable.” This week, Reps. Greg Steube, John Rutherford, and Brian Mast all endorsed Trump, adding to the list of Florida political figures distancing themselves from a potential DeSantis campaign.
Last week, news broke that DeSantis’ staffers began contacting Florida Republican congressional members to pressure them into not backing Trump. At the time, four out of the 20 congressional officials had announced their support for the former president.
The DeSantis team was reportedly spooked with GOP rising star Rep. Byron Donalds backed Trump.
“There is clearly some angst from the DeSantis camp that so many members of the state’s congressional delegation are throwing their support behind Trump,” a GOP consultant for one of the members contacted by DeSantis’ team said at the time. “Gaetz going with Trump is one thing, but Byron’s endorsement of the former president undoubtedly rattled some cages.”
Even among Republicans in other states, DeSantis’ trip failed to draw support.
Rep. Lance Gooden (R-Texas) said in a statement that despite having a positive meeting with DeSantis during his D.C. junket, the representative will be supporting Trump in the 2024 presidential race.
“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,” Gooden wrote.