Who Are Florida Republicans Endorsing in the GOP Primary?


Prominent Florida Republicans are split in the 2024 Republican Presidential Primary. Former President Donald Trump and Governor Ron DeSantis are widely considered the two frontrunners for the nomination, even with DeSantis having not yet announced.

This puts holders of elected office in Florida in a precarious position: endorse the catalyst of the modern Republican Party, or the state's leader and potential new torch-holder of the future?

As of now, each candidate commands a handful. Notable Florida Republicans who've thrown their support behind Trump include:

  • Vern Buchanan (U.S. Congressman, FL-16)
  • Byron Donalds (U.S. Congressman, FL-19)
  • Matt Gaetz (U.S. Congressman, FL-01)
  • Anna Paulina Luna (U.S. Congresswoman, FL-13)
  • Brian Mast (U.S. Congressman, FL-21)
  • Cory Mills (U.S. Congressman, FL-07)
  • Greg Steube (U.S. Congressman, FL-17)
  • Carolina Amnesty (State Representative, HD-45)
  • Joe Gruters (State Senator, SD-23)
  • Anthony Sabatini (Chair, Lake County GOP)

Meanwhile, DeSantis has earned the endorsements of just two Florida Republicans:

  • Tom Rooney (Former U.S. Congressman, FL-17)
  • Francis Rooney (Former U.S. Congressman, FL-19)

He's also earned the praise of former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, who stopped short of endorsing him outright back in February. It's reasonable to conclude DeSantis will pick up more names when he presumably makes a formal announcement of his run, but both the amount of names he'd get and even the certainty of the campaign itself are both still in the air.

The reasons to side with Trump may be personal: the former President has proven a valuable campaign tool to those who get in his good graces. Take Cory Mills, the Winter Haven Republican who rode Trump's endorsement to difficult primary and general election wins in 2022. On the other hand, it still remains to be seen how the recent indictment and arrest of Trump will affect his viability as a political brand down the stretch.

Endorsing DeSantis may be a cleaner proposition: the incumbent Governor is one of the most effective elected Republicans in state history, leading a charge to make a once-purple state solid red, and celebrating a number of major wins for Republicans on social issues. In a 2022 midterm election season where Republicans largely underperformed on the national scale, there was an undeniable red wave in the Sunshine State.

The Trump endorsement of Congressman Byron Donalds was probably the most surprising out of the crop. Donalds was a well-known ally of DeSantis during his 2018 campaign for Governor, having reportedly played Democrat Andrew Gillum in debate practice according to Time. There has been no public falling out between DeSantis and Donalds, and so any closed-door motivations for the endorsement can only lead to speculation.

The Florida primary is perhaps the most contested battleground in the 2024 primary as of now, with both Trump and DeSantis calling the state home. In August 2021, Trump won a Susquehanna primary poll with 43% to DeSantis's 34%. In July 2022, it was 61% for DeSantis and 39% for Trump according to Victory Insights. Since then, DeSantis has won most major polls and currently leads Trump 59% to 28% in the Florida primary according to the University of North Florida.

DeSantis does have a nationwide polling problem however; Trump has won nearly every major poll conducted in 2023. Time will tell how this changes if or when Florida's governor formally announces this summer.