Updated May 16, 2023 - Politics & Policy

The Republicans who endorsed a Trump challenger in 2024

Former US President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign event at the South Carolina State House in Columbia, South Carolina, US, on Saturday, Jan. 28, 2023.

Former President Trump speaks during a campaign event at the South Carolina State House on Jan. 28. Photo: Sam Wolfe/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A battle over endorsements is underway as the race for the Republican presidential nomination heats up.

Why it matters: Endorsements reveal the divisions within the GOP by showing which Republicans are backing former President Trump or abandoning him for another candidate.

State of play: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) earned his first congressional endorsement from a member of the Florida delegation on April 18 — Rep. Laurel Lee — before meeting with dozens of members of Congress on Capitol Hill.

  • DeSantis has also earned endorsements from Freedom Caucus member Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) and Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), even though the Republican governor has not formally announced his candidacy.
  • "America needs a leader who will truly defend her and empower the people against the destructive force of unrestrained government and corporate excess, profligate spending and woke cultural indoctrination," Roy said in his endorsement. "That leader is Florida Governor Ron DeSantis."
  • Roy was one of the GOP-hardliners who opposed Kevin McCarthy's prolonged bid for the speakership. He broke with Trump after the 2020 presidential election and opposed efforts to block President Biden's win.
  • DeSantis has also earned endorsements from Florida's top two Republican legislative leaders as he inches towards an official announcement. He also notched support from 51 New Hampshire state representatives, per the DeSantis-supporting super PAC Never Back Down.

The big picture: Former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley's campaign launch in February made her the first candidate to mount an official challenge to Trump, who is also her former boss. Other candidates are expected to enter what will likely be a crowded field.

  • Trump, who launched his campaign in November, has earned endorsements from congressional Republicans including Sens. Lindsey Graham (S.C.) and J.D. Vance (Ohio) and Reps. Andy Biggs (Ariz.) and Lauren Boebert (Colo.), among others, per the Washington Post.
  • The former president has also earned endorsements from at least a half-dozen members of Florida's congressional delegation.

Haley earned her first endorsement from House Freedom Caucus member Rep. Ralph Norman (R-S.C.). Norman described her as a "fierce [and] a bold leader, who will fight for America."

  • "It’s time for a reset and a new chapter in national Republican politics, and there’s no better person to help write that new chapter than our former governor and my good friend, Nikki Haley!" Norman wrote in a tweet on Feb. 15, the day of her official announcement.
  • Norman has been a strong Trump ally, and he objected to certifying results of the 2020 election.
  • He was also one of the GOP hardliners who was a holdout during the prolonged House speakership vote for the 118th Congress.

Republican Don Bolduc, who lost New Hampshire's Senate race in 2022, endorsed Haley on Feb. 16, writing in a tweet that Haley is "exactly who we need leading our country out of the mess we are in."

  • Bolduc embraced Trump's false 2020 election claims during his primary campaign.

Go deeper... Koch network indicates it won't back Trump in 2024

Editor's note: This story will be updated with new details throughout.

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