(The Hill) – Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has picked up support for his presidential campaign from what might at first appear an unlikely place: people who had worked for former President Trump’s campaign or administration or supported him.
Multiple former Trump supporters are backing DeSantis’s challenge to Trump for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination.
Here are the most notable former Trumpers currently on Team DeSantis:
Cuccinelli, a former senior Trump administration official who served as Homeland Security acting deputy secretary, has been among the most vocal and upfront former Trump supporters who have shifted to DeSantis.
He launched the “Never Back Down” super PAC in March to urge DeSantis to run for president. He said at the time that he had been speaking to “many grassroots conservative activists” who wanted DeSantis to run.
“Ron DeSantis doesn’t just talk, he acts, but most of all he never backs down,” Cuccinelli says in the video announcing the super PAC. “Gov. DeSantis, today I’m asking you to run for president. You’ve had our back, now we will have yours.”
The super PAC has since launched ads attacking Trump and promoting DeSantis as the leader of the country’s future. One ad last month slammed Trump as a “gun-grabber” over comments that he has made in support of gun control legislation, while another tried to position DeSantis as the rightful successor to Trump.
Cuccinelli is also reportedly part of “The Eight-Year Alliance,” a coalition of various former Trump officials supporting DeSantis.
Cortes served as a senior adviser to Trump’s 2016 and 2020 presidential campaigns, but he now works as an adviser and surrogate for Never Back Down.
He threw his support behind DeSantis earlier this month as “the best possible option to win the presidency” in 2024. He said in an op-ed in Newsweek that he did not arrive at his decision to support DeSantis lightly, having served as a spokesperson and adviser to Trump for much of the past seven years, but that the “America First movement” is bigger than any one individual.
He noted the 2018, 2020 and 2022 elections in which Republicans had disappointing performances with Trump as the GOP’s leader and argued “there is no substitute for victory.” DeSantis demonstrated his appeal, Cortes and other supporters say, in a landslide victory to be reelected as Florida’s governor by almost 20 points.
Cortes also argued DeSantis has discipline and has demonstrated results in policy while avoiding the “chaos” of the Trump presidency.
“Now it’s time to take that same approach for the nation. In Ron DeSantis, Republicans can rally to a fresh, vibrant, and optimistic agenda, one that includes electoral victory followed by disciplined and focused policy achievements,” he said.
Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) became the first sitting member of Congress to endorse DeSantis for president in March, more than two months before DeSantis officially announced that he was running. Roy was one of a few House members to preemptively endorse DeSantis.
Roy said in an email to his supporters that the next president “must be a vibrant and energetic leader with the faith, vision, and courage to chart a new course.”
He previously supported Trump for reelection in the 2020 presidential election, and texts obtained by CNN revealed he sent messages to former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows trying to help with Trump’s legal challenges to the election results.
But Roy had a falling out with Trump following the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection, criticizing the former president for trying to pressure Republicans to reject the results.
He said in his endorsement that DeSantis rejects “woke corporate America and higher education” and takes stances that are not politically correct. He added that the GOP needs a “new generation of leadership.”
Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) supported Trump during the 2020 election, but he and the former president have not always been on the best of terms in the past few years, and Massie endorsed DeSantis last month.
Trump slammed Massie as a “third rate grandstander” and called for him to be kicked out of the Republican Party in 2020 over Massie’s opposition to the $2 trillion COVID-19 relief package that passed at the outset of the pandemic.
Massie said during his 2022 reelection campaign that he expected Trump to stay out of his primary race, but Trump endorsed Massie as a “Conservative Warrior” and “first-rate Defender of the Constitution.”
Massie became the second House Republican to preemptively endorse DeSantis for 2024, saying that DeSantis is a “proven energetic leader” who has fought for economic freedom, personal liberty, fiscal responsibility and limited government.
“America needs a leader who is decisive, respects the Constitution, understands policy, puts family first, and leads by inspiring,” Massie said. “That’s why I’m endorsing Ron DeSantis for President.”
Never Back Down announced earlier this month that Rep. Bob Good (R-Va.) was endorsing DeSantis because he has demonstrated that he can produce “effective results for every man, woman, and child.” He said at the time that he expected DeSantis to win the presidency if he decided to run.
“Courageous conservative leadership is what America needs to stand against the insanity of woke corporations, corrupt Washington politicians, and continued attacks on our faith, families, and freedoms,” he said.
Good, who received an endorsement from Trump in his 2020 race and supported Trump’s reelection bid, said DeSantis has shown “strength in the face of adversity.”