As he gears up for an expected 2024 presidential bid, Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) is trying to convince Florida Republican members of Congress to support his campaign—and away from Trump’s, NBC News first reported.
Sources with four out of the six members of Florida’s congressional delegation contacted by DeSantis’ team told the news outlet that they were asked to hold off on making endorsements in the near future, after another House Republican from Florida endorsed Trump last week.
“Calls have been made,” an adviser for one of the congressional Republicans said.
So far, Republican Reps. Anna Paulina Luna, Matt Gaetz, Cory Mills and Byron Donalds have publicly supported Trump’s reelection campaign. Donalds in particular may have stung DeSantis considering their past allyship: His administration reportedly poured billions of dollars into Donalds’ jurisdiction after Hurricane Ian decimated the area in September, and the governor himself helped get conservative members elected to local school boards at the behest of Donalds’ wife.
Donalds was first elected in 2020, but was only recently thrust into the national spotlight when MAGA hardliners in the House nominated him for House speaker as Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) fought for the position back in January.
“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 told NBC News. “Gaetz going with Trump is one thing, but Byron’s endorsement of the former president undoubtedly rattled some cages.”
DeSantis and Trump have been carrying out a sometimes quiet, sometimes loud feud since whispers of the governor’s eminent campaign hit the press. DeSantis has pursued supporters from Trump’s base and shaded the former president for his alleged affair with porn star Stormy Daniels.
Trump, meanwhile, has taken to calling the governor “Ron DeSanctimonious,” launching angry tirades against him on Truth Social. At one point, he even boosted an accusation that DeSantis groomed minors while working at an elite private school.
Even outsiders have engaged in the mess: Back in March, online trolls got #DeSantis2024 trending on Truth Social just to “piss off” the former president, before the site mysteriously went offline.