Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is set to unveil the endorsements of more than three-dozen Iowa state legislators ahead of his trip to the state on Saturday — giving him a boost in a state that traditionally hosts the Republican Party’s first presidential nominating contest.
DeSantis has spent the last few weeks reaching out to Iowa Republicans, according to a person familiar with the calls. The governor did not explicitly ask for their support during those conversations, which were instead focused on legislative matters taking place in Florida and Iowa.
The endorsements, however, provide a political jolt for DeSantis as he readies for a likely presidential bid. The total haul represents more than one-third of the Iowa Republican legislative caucus, and far outpaces the amount of support received by any of the Republican candidates who ran in the 2016 GOP primary. The most received that year was by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), who had the backing of a dozen Iowa state lawmakers, according to tracking figures compiled at the time.
The roster of those supporting DeSantis includes more than a half-dozen party leaders — State Senate President Amy Sinclair, Senate Majority Whip Waylon Brown, Assistant House Majority Leader Brent Siegrist, House Majority Leader Matt Windschitl, House Speaker Pro Tempore John Wills, House Majority Whip Henry Stone and Assistant Majority Leader Jon Dunwell. (The Sinclair and Windschitl endorsements were first reported by the Des Moines Register.)
The endorsements are set to be rolled out on Friday by Never Back Down, a super PAC that has been set up to support a prospective DeSantis presidential candidacy. Endorsements are heavily sought after in Iowa, where the strength of a candidate’s organization can play a major role in their success in the state’s caucus.
DeSantis is set to make his second trip to Iowa on Saturday, where he will appear at a picnic hosted in Sioux Center by Iowa GOP Rep. Randy Feenstra, who has yet to endorse in the primary. Former President Trump will separately be hosting a Saturday rally about 245 miles south, in Des Moines. Ahead of his visit, the Trump campaign is expected to announce the backing of nearly 150 county leaders and grassroots activists, according to a person familiar with the plans. The former president has previously rolled out endorsements from 11 Iowa state legislators.
DeSantis has yet to formally launch his campaign, though top Republicans expect that a formal announcement is on the horizon.
The full list of DeSantis backers in Iowa also includes: State Sens. Scott Webster, Jesse Green, Adrian Dickey, Mark Costello, Ken Rozenboom, Dennis Guth, Dan Zumbach, Tom Shipley, David Rowley, Mike Klimesh, and state Reps. Dave Deyoe, Dean Fisher, Brian Best, Steven Holt, Tom Moore, Norlin Mommsen, Skyler Wheeler, Ann Meyer, David Sieck, Phil Thompson, Carter Nordman, Bob Henderson, Ken Carlson, Devon Wood, Bill Gustoff, Dan Gehlbach, Tom Determann, Mike Vondran, Taylor Collins, and Hans Wilz.