Nov 15, 2022 - Politics

Utah GOP lawmakers urge Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to explore presidential run

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in front of an American flag.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis gives a victory speech after defeating Democratic gubernatorial candidate Rep. Charlie Crist at the Tampa Convention Center on Nov. 8, 2022, in Tampa, Florida. Photo by Octavio Jones/Getty Images.

A coalition of 86 elected officials in Utah is urging Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to launch an exploratory committee to consider running for president in 2024.

  • Mostly GOP city council members, lawmakers and state elected officials signed a statement in support
  • Support for DeSantis comes days after former President Trump faced blame for key GOP candidates losing their respective midterm elections, Axios reported.

Yes, but: Utah House Speaker Brad Wilson and Senate President Stuart Adams did not sign it.

What they're saying: "We recognize the need for a strong leader to guide and direct our nation, someone with a proven track record, strong conservative foundation, and who understands the operations of state government," the statement from state GOP Sens. Todd Weiler, Dan McCay and Mike McKell read.

  • "We need a leader who will strengthen and unify the nation. Gov. Ron DeSantis serves his country and state well and skillfully navigated the many challenges Florida faced during his first term."

State of play: Weiler told Axios that he and McCay began putting the statement together and texting elected officials to sign it two days after the midterm elections.

  • "We were pleasantly surprised with the overwhelmingly positive response we got," he said.
  • In a Nov. 10 tweet, Weiler said, "the GOP is in an abusive relationship with Donald Trump."

Between the lines: The statement, released Monday, comes a day before Trump said he would make "a very big" announcement at Mar-a-Lago.

  • Several Republicans are expecting Trump to announce his re-election campaign for president.

The big picture: DeSantis is emerging as a top GOP presidential contender for 2024.

  • Conservative super PAC Club for Growth Action released a poll memo Tuesday that showed DeSantis was ahead of Trump by double digits in Iowa and New Hampshire.
  • Many Utah Republican voters have lukewarm support for Trump. During his 2016 presidential campaign, Trump performed worst among voters in Utah than in any other red state.

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