Trump scoops endorsement from Texas Republican who met with DeSantis

 April 19, 2023

A Texas Republican who had a "positive meeting" with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is endorsing former President Trump for president instead. 

The endorsement from Lance Gooden is the latest blow to DeSantis, who is widely seen as the only serious threat to Trump receiving the primary nod.

In a statement, Gooden praised DeSantis as a "commendable" warrior for the conservative agenda but said Trump is the "only leader who can save America."

"I met with Governor DeSantis, and while he has done commendable work in Florida, there is no doubt in my mind that President Trump is the only leader who can save America from the leftist onslaught we are currently facing," Gooden said over Twitter.

Another Trump endorsement

Gooden called Trump a "tireless fighter, a champion of American jobs, a guardian of our economy, and a bulwark against the relentless invasion of our borders by illegal immigrants."

"I wholeheartedly endorse President Donald J. Trump for the 2024 presidential election and vow to fight alongside him to reclaim our country from the leftist forces that threaten to destroy it," Gooden said. "Together, we will ensure a prosperous and secure future for our great nation," he added.

DeSantis scored his first endorsement from a Florida Republican on Tuesday from Laurel Lee, who cited his "unparalleled leadership under pressure, his character, and his commitment to core conservative principles."

The Florida governor has received endorsements from two other House Republicans, Chip Roy (TX) and Thomas Massie (KY).

Endorsement scoreboard

Florida Republicans have been mostly endorsing Trump over their own governor, who reportedly reached out to Florida Republicans last week urging them not to back the former President.

But two more Florida Republicans, Brian Mast and John Rutherford, endorsed Trump Tuesday.

Trump now has the endorsements of seven Florida Republicans, and more than 50 Republican lawmakers total.

DeSantis in choppy waters

DeSantis is expected to declare in May, once the legislative session is over, but some supporters fear the delay has enabled Trump to define his rival.

There is no doubt that DeSantis is entering the race on a weaker footing than many expected. Trump has been surging in the polls after his unprecedented indictment over "hush money" in Manhattan, and some Republican donors have expressed concerns about DeSantis' political acumen in recent weeks.

DeSantis backers caution that it's still early in the game, with the primaries still months away.

In the meantime, the governor has continued to aggressively embrace the culture war fights that made him a favorite of the conservative base -- from escalating his war on woke Disney to signing a six-week abortion ban.

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