Two Republican New Hampshire state lawmakers, who previously backed former President Donald Trump for the GOP nomination in 2024, have switched over to endorse Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis instead, they confirmed with the Daily Caller News Foundation.
DeSantis secured the endorsements from over 50 of the state’s House members on May 16 ahead of an expected presidential launch, and four of those listed by Never Back Down, the political action committee (PAC) tasked with recruiting the governor into the Republican primaries, previously backed Trump.
GOP state Reps. Debra DeSimone and Brian Cole believe DeSantis is the right leader for this time, they told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
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“Although [he] has not yet formally announced his candidacy, I have simply decided to endorse Ron DeSantis due to his convictions both politically and personally,” DeSimone told the DCNF. “I believe he can bring this country back to the strongest most respected country in the world.”
Cole had the chance to meet with the Florida governor “individually,” while he met with the former president among a group of people, he told the DCNF.
“I think DeSantis resonates better with the base here in New Hampshire. I think they’re both good candidates, but that’s my choice at this time,” Cole told the DCNF. “After hearing both of their ideas about policies and how they’re governing, I think DeSantis is better on track at this point in time.”
Along with DeSimone and Cole, Reps. Lisa Smart and Juliet Harvey-Bolia appeared on the Trump campaign’s April 29 New Hampshire endorsement list. Never Back Down released their endorsement list for the state on May 16, indicating that the four lawmakers had jumped ship.
“The representatives’ statements speak for themselves. Ron DeSantis is the future,” Erin Perinne, communications director for Never Back Down, told the DCNF in a statement.
Rumors swirled on Twitter about the validity of the endorsements when a statement was released on Smart’s behalf by the Trump campaign that indicated she was indeed backing the former president and not DeSantis.
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“I was so incredibly proud to join many of my colleagues in endorsing President Donald J. Trump last month and my support for him has not changed,” Smart stated. “I’m dismayed by the games being played by Never Back Down and I will NOT be participating in any activities with Ron DeSantis.”
Following the release of Smart’s statement, a copy of the state lawmaker’s official signature of endorsement for DeSantis on May 9 was made public, furthering the dispute as both camps had receipts of her support.
“Never Back Down was exposed and caught in a lie. If this is any indication of how Ron DeSantis will be running his operation, they will have a hard time looking at themselves in the mirror each day,” Trump campaign spokesman Steven Cheung told the DCNF in a statement. “But this is expected from an operation run by shady operatives who are willing to sell their souls to the highest bidder instead of actually trying to help the Movement.”
Harvey-Bolia differed from her New Hampshire colleagues, and declared she was going to support both Trump and DeSantis, she told NBC News.
“I’m endorsing both,” she told NBC News. “DeSantis has a lot of promise for the future, and Trump is great now.”
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New Hampshire‘s House Majority Leader Jason Osborn is among the DeSantis endorsers, and the state will play a crucial role in the 2024 Republican nomination, as it will host the nation’s first GOP primary early next year. Trump currently leads DeSantis 42% to 22% among likely Republican primary voters, according to an April 19 University of New Hampshire poll.
Over three dozen GOP state legislators in the key early primary state of Iowa also endorsed DeSantis ahead of his visit over the weekend, according to a May 12 Never Back Down press release.
“The support in Iowa for Governor Ron DeSantis to jump in the race and be our next President is overflowing – as shown by this historic list, which is the largest number of endorsements from Iowa legislators at this stage of a GOP primary in modern memory. Iowa’s leaders are getting behind DeSantis as the future of the Republican Party,” Perrine said in a statement.
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