In a blow to Republican frontrunner Donald Trump, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds endorsed Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis this week, claiming that Trump “can’t win”.
Iowa is a crucial state in the Republican primary season; its caucus on January 15 makes it the first in the nation to vote, and often sets the trend for the rest of the season.
As part of a joint interview between the two state officials, Gov. Reynolds put it bluntly. “I believe he can’t win,” she said of Trump, “and I believe that Ron can. That’s a big reason I got behind him.”
Despite her initial insistence to remain neutral in the race for the GOP presidential nomination, Gov. Reynolds has appeared alongside Gov. DeSantis at least eight times since he announced his campaign towards the end of May. By breaking tradition to endorse a candidate, Reynolds is supporting a prospect hoping to unite anti-Trump conservatives behind him.
“This one’s obviously very meaningful, because Kim has proven to be a great leader that Iowans love,” DeSantis said of Reynolds’ support, who is now in her second term as state governor. “I mean, any time I mention her name out there, they cheer, and it’s because of what she’s been able to accomplish as governor,” he added.
Trump Can Actually Win
Despite Reynolds’ claims, new polls released this week show Trump ahead of President Joe Biden across battleground states and the nation as a whole. However, Trump has four criminal trials to contend with next year ahead of an election which is still just under 365 days away.
The Iowan painted DeSantis as an accomplished executive, and one worth risking her political capital with a range of upcoming public events scheduled.
“I just felt like I couldn’t sit on the sidelines any longer. We have too much at stake. Our country is in a world of hurt, the world is a powder keg, and I think it’s just really important that we put the right person in office,” she said.
An NBC News/Des Moines Register/Mediacom poll of Iowans conducted in late October found 16% of likely Republican voters planned to support the Florida Governor, down three points from August and far behind Trump’s 43% base level of support. For the former in particular, Iowa is a crucial state, having pledged to visit all 99 counties before the January 15 caucus.
The Trump campaign has disputed Reynolds’ influence, who kept up the long tradition of neutrality by predecessor Gov. Terry Branstad. However, she has enjoyed strong favorability ratings from the largely pro-Republican state, indicating that her backing of DeSantis could have a considerable effect on the state’s voting intentions come the new year.
Shay Bottomley is a British journalist based in Canada. He has written for the Western Standard, Maidenhead Advertiser, Slough Express, Windsor Express, Berkshire Live and Southend Echo, and has covered notable events including the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.