In the contest for the Republican presidential nomination, five Florida legislators have changed their allegiance from Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis to former President Donald Trump.
Seventy-seven state legislators endorsed Trump on Saturday, the day he delivered a speech at the Florida Freedom Summit, as The Daily Wire reported.
Five candidates, including State Senator Debbie Mayfield, State Representative Jessica Baker, Webster Barnaby, Alina Garcia, and Kevin Steele, switched from DeSantis to Trump.
On Saturday, state representatives Mike Beltran and David Borrero, who had not yet declared their candidacy, extended their support to the former president and current leader of the Republican Party.
In the past, two New Hampshire state representatives and one Iowa state senator renounced their support for Trump in favor of DeSantis.
“As instability grows around the world and economic uncertainty takes root here at home, folks across my district tell me constantly they want to see President Donald Trump back in the White House and Gov. Ron DeSantis back on the job here in Florida, finishing the work he promised to do less than a year ago,” Baker said in a statement to The Messenger, the news outlet that first reported the endorsements.
A number of the legislators who switched their support to Trump were invited to the summit on Saturday, where he reportedly received the most resounding demonstration of support among all Republican presidential candidates.
According to Florida's Voice, the crowd began shouting "We love Trump!" as soon as the lawmakers exited the stage.
The seven endorsements follow State Representative Randy Fine's two-week-old support for Trump as a DeSantis defector. The plurality of Florida's congressional delegation, which includes Reps. Byron Donalds, Matt Gaetz, and Anna Paulina Luna, is also in favor of Trump.
The Messenger reports that fourteen Republican congressmen from Florida have endorsed the former president, while one has endorsed DeSantis.
Trump received the support and endorsement of Senator Rick Scott (R-FL) on Thursday. Scott, who was governor of Florida until 2019 and was sworn in as a senator, stated that he and Trump worked "hand in hand" to enhance the state during Trump's first term.
“I don’t think there’s any question in my mind. He is the one person running that can really bring strength back to our country,” Scott told the Freedom Summit crowd.
Scott won gubernatorial elections against Democratic opponents in both 2010 and 2014 by an edge of just over one percentage point. Four years after defeating Democrat challenger Andrew Gillum by a margin of 0.4% in 2018, DeSantis won by a margin of over 19 percentage points.
A little more than one percentage point separated Trump's 2016 victory and his re-election in the state four years later, where he defeated President Joe Biden by a margin of 47.9% to 51.2 percent.
In contrast, DeSantis's campaign team asserted that his critics held little significance in the election and emphasized his endorsements in Iowa.