Whoever wins the Republican Primary for Florida’s 15th Congressional District will be the favorite in November.
The seat, as drawn, went for former President Donald Trump by about three points in 2020, and this year’s election is expected to be even more favorable to Republicans.
That’s probably why so many well-known GOP politicians have signed up to run. The field includes former Secretary of State Laurel Lee, state Sen. Kelli Stargel, and state Rep. Jackie Toledo, as well as retired Navy Commander Demetries Grimes and Navy veteran Kevin “Mac” McGovern.
In a packed Republican Primary, each candidate is hoping for one thing (well, two things, actually): An endorsement from Trump and another from Gov. Ron DeSantis.
If either, or both, were to throw their support behind one of the candidates it would essentially end the race, assuming they both backed the same horse.
DeSantis’ endorsement alone has already ended a few state legislative races — Shawn Harrison, anyone?
It seems Stargel knows this because her campaign has decided to fake it until she makes it.
Her latest piece of campaign messaging is seemingly a response to the prompt: “Tell me you’re endorsed by Trump and DeSantis without telling me you’re endorsed by Trump and DeSantis.”
The direct mail ad features her flanked by the Governor and former President, all three of them wearing big grins.
It’s not a real photograph, obviously, because the last time she was that close to the Governor her smile wasn’t all that convincing — it was the day he vetoed one of her budget priorities.
Still, it is clearly meant to insinuate she has his backing, which is something Lee and Toledo (and possibly Grimes and McGovern) are very much in the running for.
The Governor has weighed in on several state legislative races, but he has been holding back endorsements for congressional primaries, whether competitive or not. He hasn’t even endorsed Sen. Aaron Bean for CD 4, despite him being the only Republican running who has a shred of name ID.
Unless Stargel knows something the rest of us don’t, this is a play that’s more likely to lose her the Governor’s endorsement than land it.