Part of how Donald Trump won the White House in 2016 was that he was able to flip three states, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, that had been won by the Democrats in the last several elections. However, Trump failed to win any of those states in 2020, and all three elected Democratic governors in the 2022 midterms against Trump-associated Republican candidates. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer was re-elected in Michigan, and Gov. Tony Evers won another term in Wisconsin, while Josh Shapiro won in Pennsylvania, succeeding fellow Democrat Tom Wolf.
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Now, there are indications that the GOP in one of those states is ready to move beyond Trump. And it could be an indication of a larger anti-Trump revolt.
According to Politico, a large group of 18 elected Republican legislators has written a letter to Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, encouraging him to run for president. Bryan Posthumus, one of those legislators, hand-delivered the letter to DeSantis in Florida.
The letter called DeSantis “uniquely and exceptionally qualified to provide the leadership and competence that is, unfortunately, missing.” The letter added that the signatories “stand ready and willing to help [DeSantis] win Michigan in 2024.”
The letter does not specifically mention Donald Trump or endorse DeSantis over him, but asking him to run for president carries that implication.
Jason Roe, a former Michigan Republican Party executive director, told Politico the significance of the letter.
“I think it is very significant that elected Republicans are so overtly looking for an alternative in 2024. It shows a seriousness about winning, at the risk of poking the Trump bear. I think we will see more of this in the coming months,” Roe told the site.
He also noted that, following the Donald Trump era, Republicans now control no major offices in Michigan, with Democrats also capturing control of both Houses of the state legislature.
As has been their wont, DeSantis and his staff did not comment on Politico’s report.
In addition to his win in 2016 which was the first Republican win in a presidential election since 1988, Trump also won the Republican primary that year. Trump, throughout that campaign, repeatably claimed to have once won a “Michigan Man of the Year” award, which does not appear to exist.
And in November of 2020, after he lost the presidential election, Trump invited two Michigan Republican legislative leaders, Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey and Michigan House Speaker Lee Chatfield, to the White House to get them to delay Michigan’s certifying of electoral votes for President Biden.
“We have not yet been made aware of any information that would change the outcome of the election in Michigan and as legislative leaders, we will follow the law and follow the normal process regarding Michigan’s electors, just as we have said throughout this election,” the two leaders said in a statement after the meeting.
The latest Morning Consult poll, released Wednesday, had Trump leading with 48 percent support in the Republican field, followed by DeSantis with 31 percent, former Vice President Mike Pence with 8 percent, former Congresswoman Liz Cheney with 3 percent, former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley and Sen. Ted Cruz with 2 percent, and several candidates — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Sen. Tim Scott — with 1 percent each. Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin is listed at zero percent, while “someone else” got 1 percent.
Trump’s favorability had reached a “nadir” of 45 percent around New Year’s Day but has since rebounded, Morning Consult said.
“Just over a year out from the Republican Party’s first presidential nominating contest, Trump remains the front-runner in a hypothetical crowded field, backed by 48% of potential Republican primary voters. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is expected to launch a campaign after his state’s legislative session ends in May, is backed by 31% of the potential GOP electorate,” the poll explanation said. It added that favorability ratings have improved for the former president.
Stephen Silver is a Senior Editor for 19FortyFive. He is an award-winning journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.