DeSantis appears to make a pivotal move for presidential showdown with key endorsement

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis picked a side in Tuesday’s Kentucky Republican gubernatorial primary and his endorsement could prove an early bellwether in challenging former President Donald Trump.

Marking another contrast to the former president, as expectation grows of a likely bid for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, DeSantis waited until the day before Kentucky’s primary to throw his weight behind Trump’s former UN ambassador Kelly Craft.

Monday, the candidate posted a brief message from America’s Governor to social media and remarked, “He sets the example for Republican leaders around the nation because he delivers bold, conservative results,” before adding, “Kentucky needs to look more like Florida instead of California, and I look forward to ushering in a new generation of conservative leadership as Governor of Kentucky.”

DeSantis said much the same in his recorded message that reminded, “When you vote…Tuesday, May 16th, vote for my friend, Kelly Craft, and get Kentucky on the path to becoming a free state like Florida.”

“Hello, this is Governor Ron DeSantis, coming to you from the free state of Florida. You’ve had a woke, liberal governor who’s put a radical agenda ahead of Kentuckians,” he said of incumbent Democrat Gov. Andy Beshear. “The stakes couldn’t be higher. I know what it takes to stand up for what’s right, and Kelly Craft’s got it. She’s proven it.”

“I’m strongly encouraging you to go out and vote for my friend, Kelly Craft. Kelly shares the same vision we do in Florida,” DeSantis continued as he likened his accomplishments to her platform. “She will stand up to the left as they try to indoctrinate our children with their woke ideology. Kelly will fight against crazy ESG policies that are trying to end the coal industry in Kentucky. And Kelly’s going to do everything in her power to end the fentanyl crisis that is hurting Kentucky families.”

The last-minute endorsement for Craft varied from Trump’s rather early backing of Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron whom he had picked in June 2022 while Craft was still mulling her candidacy.

The latest Emerson College poll conducted from May 10-12 showed Cameron leading the field of 12 candidates with 33 percent over Craft’s 17.6 percent. Despite such a wide margin, DeSantis joined other Republicans who had already shown their support for the ambassador including presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas).

Meanwhile, as the Lexington Herald-Leader had reported, Cameron, who had once interned for Senate Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) before later working full-time for his staff, has been receiving support from a political action committee linked to McConnell. Craft supporters have attempted to use that as a sticking point, but she too was said to be connected to the senator in part due to his prominence throughout Kentucky politics.

The race’s decision will undoubtedly be used as a talking point to bolster support from whichever endorsed candidate takes the win to face Beshear in November.


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