WASHINGTON (AP) — Rep. Chip Roy of Texas, an outspoken member of the far-right House Freedom Caucus, preemptively endorsed Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for president on Wednesday, pushing his fellow Republican House members to look beyond former President Donald Trump for the 2024 GOP nomination.
The public showing of support appears to be DeSantis' first endorsement from a member of Congress and comes as the governor has been courting conservative lawmakers ahead of a formal announcement expected after the end of the state legislative session in May.
Roy wrote in an email sent from his campaign that the party needs "a new generation of leadership" at the helm, and he argued that DeSantis has "proven his ability to win at the ballot box time and time again." The comments were implicit knocks on the 76-year-old Trump, who lost his own reelection bid in 2020 and was blamed for an unexpectedly poor showing by Republican candidates in last year's midterms.
“When other Republicans were faltering in key races, Governor DeSantis provided a positive vision for the future with prudent, conservative action. The result was crystal clear: Republicans enjoyed sweeping, historic performances statewide,” Roy wrote.
Roy made clear that he will support the eventual Republican nominee even if it isn't DeSantis.
“America has been built upon and defined by the sacrifices of one generation for the next,” Roy wrote. “When Republicans choose our 2024 presidential nominee — whom I intend to support against Joe Biden or any other Democrat candidate — I believe it’s time for a new generation of leadership. It’s time for younger, but proven, leadership to offer America eight solid years of transformational change.”
His endorsement of DeSantis could open the door for other members of Congress to defy Trump by backing DeSantis as well. More than two dozen House members have already endorsed Trump's reelection bid, including the No. 3 House Republican, Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York.
Roy also attended a weekend retreat hosted by DeSantis last month that included Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton, Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson, Utah Sen. Mike Lee and Kentucky Rep. Thomas Massie.
Roy has clashed with the former president in the past and voted to certify the results of the 2020 election that Trump had falsely claimed was stolen from him through voter fraud.
The congressman has held a House seat since 2019 and emerged as a boisterous member of the chamber’s Freedom Caucus. He was a key holdout against House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s leadership election earlier this year.
The endorsement came the same day that MAGA, Inc., a Trump-supporting super PAC, filed an ethics complaint against DeSantis in Florida, accusing him of violating campaign finance and ethics rules with a shadow run for the White House. A DeSantis spokesperson dismissed the complaint as "frivolous and politically motivated."