Republican Florida Congressmen Mike Waltz and Gus Bilirakis named Donald Trump their preferred 2024 Republican presidential candidate on Thursday, choosing the former president over Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is rumored to be considering a run.
“Today I am proud to endorse Donald J. Trump for President,” Waltz said in a statement to Breitbart News and republished on Trump’s campaign website. “Under his leadership, President Trump secured our southern border, created seven million jobs with record-low unemployment, brought manufacturing back to the U.S., made America energy independent and affordable, brokered historic Middle East peace deals, destroyed the ISIS caliphate, launched the Space Force, took out Soleimani, gave veterans choice, and put measures in place to stop China’s march towards global dominance.”
Waltz’s endorsement carries some added significance in the match-up between Trump and DeSantis. Waltz represents Florida’s Sixth Congressional District, the same district DeSantis represented before winning his 2018 gubernatorial race.
DeSantis has yet to announce a run for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination. Still, Trump and his campaign have warned DeSantis not to run and issued statements attacking DeSantis’ record and even claiming DeSantis is being advised by “endless-war neo-cons like Jeb Bush, George Bush, and Karl Rove.”
Potentially further complicating a DeSantis decision to run in 2024 is Florida’s “resign-to-run” law, which would require DeSantis to resign from his position as governor just months after winning reelection to pursue the 2024 Republican nomination.
In his endorsement of Trump on Thursday, Bilirakis acknowledged the other Republicans currently in the field and “potential candidates” in a possible reference to DeSantis.
“The robust field of Republican leaders is reflective of our diversity and strength. I am fortunate to call several candidates (and potential candidates) friends and colleagues whose proven track record of leadership I deeply admire and respect,” Bilirakis said.
“The State of Florida, alone, boasts two trailblazers of unabashed, bold leadership whose achievements in governance during challenging times are to be commended,” Bilirakis added. “President Trump has a proven track record of delivering results for the American people at the federal level, and I am proud to support him in his 2024 campaign.”
Where Florida Republicans Stand
Republicans control 20 of Florida’s 28 Seats in the House of Representatives and both of its Senate seats.
In addition to Waltz and Bilirakis, Trump has garnered endorsements from eight other Florida Republican representatives. Trump has endorsements from Florida Reps. Vern Buchanan, Byron Donalds, Matt Gaetz, Anna Paulina Luna, Brian Mast, Cory Mills, John Rutherford, and Greg Steube.
Rep. Laurel Lee, who previously served as Florida’s Secretary of State, endorsed DeSantis on Wednesday, saying, “As Ron DeSantis’s Secretary of State, I had the honor of witnessing firsthand his unparalleled leadership under pressure, his character, and his commitment to core conservative principles. His leadership and his vision made Florida a shining beacon of freedom.”
Republican Florida Reps. Aaron Bean, Mario Díaz-Balart, Kat Cammack, Neal Dunn, Scott Franklin, Carlos Giménez, Bill Posey, María Elvira Salazar, and Dan Webster have yet to issue an endorsement in the 2024 Republican primary.
Republican Florida Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott have not weighed in on the 2024 Republican presidential primary.
Trump Leads DeSantis in 2024 Polls
Trump has led DeSantis in numerous 2024 polls. Trump has expanded that polling lead over DeSantis in recent weeks amid a surge in support after Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg indicted him on allegations of falsifying business records.
DeSantis led Trump 45 to 41 in a head-to-head match-up in the Yahoo News/YouGov poll in early February. By mid-March, a match-up (pdf) by the same pollsters, the two Republicans remained relatively close, but by then, Trump led DeSantis 47 to 39. In the days surrounding Trump’s Manhattan criminal indictment, his lead over DeSantis reached 57 to 31 in the Yahoo News/YouGov poll. Trump’s lead over DeSantis has since slipped slightly in the Yahoo News/YouGov poll, with Trump ahead 52 to 36 in the pollster’s latest match-up between April 14 and 17.
They are within their right to endorse whomever they want; however, I would not go as far as to call them “promiment”.