The first Republican member of Congress to officially support DeSantis for president may surprise you

AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee

Bold move. Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) became the first Republican to publicly endorse Florida Governor Ron DeSantis for president Wednesday. DeSantis hasn’t officially launched a campaign to win the Republican nomination but he is expected to do that when the Florida Legislature’s session is over. Roy sent out a fundraising email and he is all-in for eight years of a DeSantis administration. “It’s time for younger, but proven, leadership to offer America eight solid years of transformational change.”


This is the theme and the most obvious argument against the frontrunners of both political parties – it’s time for generational change. Americans are frustrated by the refusal of older politicians to step aside and let the next generation of leaders emerge. Chip Roy’s email hit on three selling points of a DeSantis candidacy – his strong and fearless governance of his state during the COVID-19 pandemic, his support for border security, and his ability to secure victories that turned Florida from a purplish state to a solidly red state.

“It’s time for Ron DeSantis to be President of the United States,” wrote Roy. He praised DeSantis’ rejection of COVID vaccine mandates in Florida, his plane flight of migrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard and the substantial election victories scored by DeSantis and Florida Republicans in the midterm elections last year.

It is interesting to note that ride-or-die loyal Trump supporters are switching to DeSantis this time around. Chip Roy is a member of the House Freedom Caucus which counts some of Trump’s most loyal supporters as members. Ron DeSantis, it should be noted, was a founding member of the House Freedom Caucus during his days in the House. Is it the Freedom Caucus connection that pulls Roy to support DeSantis now? It’s possible. One of the badges of honor the Freedom Caucus wear is that they are disruptors of the status quo. DeSantis certainly has shaken things up in Florida and it is working for him.


So, Roy is out in front of other Republicans who are inclined to support DeSantis in the GOP primary. It’s still early and DeSantis hasn’t declared yet, but this may open the door for others to get in early for DeSantis.

Endorsements by current lawmakers have been slow to come in for Trump. By the middle of February, the list of supporters for Trump included 5 senators and 26 members of the House.

Senate (5): Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.), Markwayne Mullin (Okla.), Eric Schmitt (Mo.), Tommy Tuberville (Ala.) and J.D. Vance (Ohio)

House (26): Jim Banks (Ind.), Andy Biggs (Ariz.), Lauren Boebert (Colo.), Mike Carey (Ohio), Elijah Crane (Ariz.), Charles J. “Chuck” Fleischmann (Tenn.), Russell Fry (S.C.), Matt Gaetz (Fla.), Paul A. Gosar (Ariz.), Tony Gonzales (Tex.), Marjorie Taylor Greene (Ga.), Harriet M. Hageman (Wyo.), Clay Higgins (La.), Wesley Hunt (Tex.), Ronny Jackson (Tex.), Jim Jordan (Ohio), Mary E. Miller (Ill.), Max L. Miller (Ohio), Alex Mooney (W.Va.), Barry Moore (Ala.), Troy E. Nehls (Tex.), Elise Stefanik (N.Y.), Dale W. Strong (Ala.), William Timmons (S.C.), Jeff Van Drew (N.J.) and Joe Wilson (S.C.)

Rep. Ralph Norman (R-SC), also a Freedom Caucus member and loyal to Trump, has backed Nikki Haley, his own state’s former governor.

The timing of Roy’s endorsement is interesting, too. DeSantis is taking fire from all sides for his position on Putin’s war in Ukraine. DeSantis answered questions submitted by Fox News Channel host Tucker Carlson, as most declared and probable Republican presidential candidates did, and his wording of the war has drawn criticism. He described the war as a territorial conflict and everyone went nuts. The point DeSantis made was that while it is important to help Ukraine retain its sovereignty as a country, it is also important that the United States doesn’t get sucked down a rabbit hole and continue to blindly support Ukraine. Granted, DeSantis is going to have to flesh out his position a little more precisely but for now, his answer is perfectly acceptable. He’s not the president who is leading from behind, that’s Joe Biden. It’s a bit much to see so many Democrats and Republicans turn into war hawks over defending Ukraine. Do they want to see the United States in a hot war without clear objectives? What happened to the disdain for “forever wars”? Some caution is refreshing and yet it brings about criticism that DeSantis is a Putin poodle, a Russian stooge. It’s ridiculous.


DeSantis is a military veteran. He’s not a Putin apologist. DeSantis joined the United States Navy in 2004. He served as a legal advisor to SEAL Team One. He was stationed at Joint Task Force Guantanamo in 2006. He deployed to Iraq in 2007. I think it would be good to have a veteran back in the White House.

Trump and Nikki Haley criticize DeSantis for copying Trump’s answers to questions. Chip Roy supports the position DeSantis takes on Ukraine.

Roy, unlike many of his GOP colleagues in Congress, expressed support for DeSantis’ position in his email and wrote that DeSantis recognizes “a military is best” when it is “not mired in endless, protracted military engagements all around the globe.”

Roy used the words of Ronald Reagan to support DeSantis on conflicts.”Peace through strength.”

“Governor DeSantis makes clear he would lead our nation as commander in chief with the kind of resolve and sober strength that produces peace through strength,” the Austin Republican said in a campaign email to his supporters.

It isn’t a coincidence that Putin invaded Crimea during the Obama-Biden administration and then invaded Ukraine during Biden’s term in office. Biden likes to sound like a bully but only against Republicans, not evil dictators in the world. He’s feckless and Putin knows it.


Perhaps the checkered relationship between Roy and Trump is coming back to bite Trump.

Roy and Trump have had a testy relationship. The pair were previously at odds when Trump endorsed Roy’s rival in a House leadership election. Trump also refused to endorse Roy last fall in spite of endorsing almost all other GOP members of the Texas congressional delegation.

Roy is a big voice in the House. He garners frequent appearances on political shows and knows how to get attention in the press. We’ll see how much support he gets for his early endorsement of DeSantis.

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