5 things we noticed about the 99 state lawmakers endorsing Ron DeSantis

DeSantis immigration
Family divisions, swing seat holdouts and budget interests all underline the roster.

Forget the race for congressional endorsements. A show of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ influence within the Capitol came into crisp view with 99 state lawmakers backing his bid.

NBC News’ Matt Dixon released a list of lawmakers casting their lot with DeSantis over former President Donald Trump. Here’s what we noticed about the roster.

Leadership on down

The Republicans leading both the House and Senate endorsed DeSantis uniformly. That included the sitting Senate President Kathleen Passidomo and House Speaker Paul Renner, who endorsed a day prior, and the next two Republicans in line to likely preside over each chamber.

But beyond that, almost everyone on Passidomo’s and Renner’s leadership teams was on the list.

Endorsements came before a budget

It’s hard to ignore that all the lawmakers jumping on the DeSantis bandwagon did so before the state budget made its way to DeSantis’ Office. Florida’s Governor has line-item veto power. That means every lawmaker in Florida has some reason to play nice with the Governor for the sake of their own appropriations priorities.

Trump’s camp was quick to jump on that fact in a statement diminishing the value of these endorsements.

“It’s no surprise that Ron DeSantis and his political cronies have continued to terrorize the Florida legislature with the threat of his veto pen if they don’t acquiesce to his demand to endorse his candidacy,” Trump spokesperson Steven Cheung said.

“There are some brave legislators who have stood up to DeSantis’ Swamp-like behavior and resisted his intimidation tactics in order to do what is right for Florida and the country. Those who he can’t control — including almost the entirety of the Florida federal congressional delegation — have endorsed President Trump because he’s the only candidate who can beat Joe Biden and take back the White House.”

Gruters on an island

To date, state Sen. Joe Gruters, a former Republican Party of Florida Chair, remains the only state lawmaker to formally endorse Trump over DeSantis. He co-chaired Trump’s 2016 campaign in Florida, and has maintained a close relationship to the ex-President. But with DeSantis now securing a significant majority of Republican colleagues in the Legislature, Gruters’ endorsement seems more exceptional each day.

Odd lawmakers out?

So who are the holdouts? It’s much easier to list the GOP lawmakers who aren’t endorsing DeSantis at this point.

Eyes will quickly turn to the 13 Republican lawmakers who haven’t issued endorsements. That includes state Sens. Ileana Garcia, Erin Grall, Ed Hooper, Ana Maria Rodriguez and Tom Wright. Some of those come as no surprise. Garcia, for example, founded Latinas for Trump, and has a built in association with the former President, much like Gruters.

In the House, the uncommitted list includes state Reps. Carolina Amesty, Mike Beltran, Dean Black, David Borrero, Demi Busatta Cabrera, Susan Plasencia, Juan Carlos Porras and Rick Roth.

Reasons for staying quiet for now may vary. Black, for example, chairs the Duval County Republican Party and has vowed to stay neutral. Borrero, the only member of House leadership not endorsing DeSantis, represents Doral, where Trump has property. But there are quite a few lawmakers in swing seats on the uncommitted list.

Buchanan break

State Rep. James Buchanan, a close ally of likely future Speaker Daniel Perez, is on the DeSantis list. That in and of itself isn’t too surprising, except that his father, U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, came out strongly for Trump.

That means the Sarasota County Republicans will root for different squads in the Primary. He’s not the only one endorsing DeSantis despite family ties to the Trump team. State Rep. Fiona McFarland’s mother, K.T. McFarland, served as Deputy National Security Advisor under Trump, but the younger McFarland is lining up behind DeSantis.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].


  • SteveHC

    May 17, 2023 at 4:10 pm

    BOY do I hate these incredibly rare moments when Trump is right…

  • Lynda

    May 17, 2023 at 4:21 pm

    Guess it was all these “endorsements” prior to a swarm of line item vetoes from deSantis which may be coming the way of legislators not agreeing with deSantis. Of course only the voters of FL will suffer the loss of important items/services, not those legislators deemed disloyal.

    Whatever the dear leader of his own cult does about the disloyalty of others while he lingers in second place to trump as a Primary candidate., grudges will be held by both trump and deSantis. Just the personality characteristic one wants in a president of anything!

  • Dont Say FLA

    May 17, 2023 at 5:16 pm

    As another commenter says, “slurp slurp slurp.” To that, I add “slurp” and another “slurp” to make five things in common among all politicians within Fleur Duh that have alleged themselves to be supporters of Rhonda’s Panties.

  • F Ron

    May 17, 2023 at 7:30 pm

    Jacksonville sez ‘fu’ to Puddin’

    Ron DeSantis wasn’t on a ballot last night, but his endorsed candidates flopped. In Kentucky, where Attorney Gen. Daniel Cameron won the Republican nomination for governor, DeSantis cut a last-minute recording for former U.N. Ambassador Kelly Craft. She stumbled into third place, after spending more than $10 million to portray the Trump-endorsed Cameron as a faux-conservative “teddy bear.”

    Craft’s campaign had hired Axiom, the political consulting firm run by Jeff Roe, who is currently advising the pro-DeSantis super PAC Never Back Down. Trumpworld enjoyed watching the operative take a hit. “Republican voters stand with President Trump, not Ron DeSantis,” said Alex Pfeiffer, a spokesman for the Trump super PAC Make America Great Again Inc. “Voters know that President Trump has their interests in mind when he endorses a candidate, not the interests of the consultant class.”

    DeSantis’ candidate also lost in Jacksonville, the largest city in the country with a Republican mayor. Democrat Donna Deegan, a former local TV anchor and founder of a breast cancer foundation, prevailed 52-48 over local Chamber of Commerce head Daniel Davis. Six months ago, DeSantis had carried the city by 12 points, but Davis and another Republican clashed bitterly in the first round, and Deegan pre-empted effective Republican attacks on crime by promising to hire more police officers.

    • Dont Say FLA

      May 18, 2023 at 9:30 am

      Yep, folks finally realizing, trans kids and drag queens aren’t a problem. The bullets flying in our schools are a problem. The bullets flying in our schools are THE problem. Nothing else matters until the plague of AR15 equipped MAGA nuts is addressed and our kids are safe from bullets. Once the kids are safe from being shot to death at school, then we can worry about pervy gym teachers with a big ole’ pair …. of Taylor Swift tickets.

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