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Rep. Lee endorses DeSantis, bringing Capitol Hill supporters to 3 while Trump has backing of over 50 lawmakers

While many Republican lawmakers are backing former President Donald J. Trump to be the Republican nominee — setting up a potential rematch with President Biden — some have voiced their support for one of his potential challengers: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Rep. Laurel Lee, R-Fla., has become the latest to back DeSantis, announcing on Tuesday that she was throwing her support behind the potential candidate.

“As Ron DeSantis’s Secretary of State, I had the honor of witnessing firsthand his unparalleled leadership under pressure, his character, and his commitment to core conservative principles. His leadership and his vision made Florida a shining beacon of freedom,” Lee said in a statement. “Ron DeSantis fights for what matters, and he wins when it matters most.”

She added: “Our country is in crisis, and it is time Americans learn what Floridians already know: Ron DeSantis’s conservative principles, proven track record, and his commitment to our country are exactly what we need in a leader. It was my honor to serve in his administration and it is my honor today to endorse him for President of the United States.”

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Rep. Laurel Lee, R-Fla., endorsed Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for President of the United States on Tuesday, April 18, 2023. He has not yet officially announced a bid.

Rep. Laurel Lee, R-Fla., endorsed Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for President of the United States on Tuesday, April 18, 2023. He has not yet officially announced a bid. (Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

Lee is the third House Republican to back DeSantis.

Reps. Thomas Massie of Kentucky and Chip Roy of Texas have also backed the Florida governor, over Trump, for the 2024 contest.

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DeSantis has not yet announced his candidacy, although he is expected to launch a presidential campaign when the Florida legislative session ends next month.

A pro-DeSantis political action committee has remained dedicated to ramping up the governor’s chances in a potential bout with Trump, slowly building up his political operation and war chest. A super PAC named Never Back Down, staffed with top Republican operatives and communications, was formed in March to help DeSantis get elected.

Former U.S. President Donald Trump has received endorsements from over 50 members of Congress, including nine Senators.

Former U.S. President Donald Trump has received endorsements from over 50 members of Congress, including nine Senators. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

While DeSantis’ magic number is currently at three, Trump has over 50 lawmakers rallying behind him.

Nine U.S. Senators — Ted Budd of North Carolina, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, Bill Hagerty of Tennessee, Cindy Hyde-Smith of Mississippi, Markwayne Mullin of Oklahoma, Eric Schmitt of Missouri, Tommy Tuberville of Alabama, and JD Vance of Ohio — and over 45 House Republicans have publicly endorsed the former president.

The other U.S. Senator from South Carolina, Tim Scott, has launched an exploratory committee for his own potential White House bid.

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Of those endorsees in the U.S. House of Representatives, six are from Florida.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has widespread support among Republicans but has not yet officially announced his intention to run for the presidency. Such an announcement, should it happen, is expected to take place in May or June.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has widespread support among Republicans but has not yet officially announced his intention to run for the presidency. Such an announcement, should it happen, is expected to take place in May or June. (Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Both Trump and DeSantis share a connection to the state as the former officially moved there after leaving New York and the latter represented the state in Congress before winning the governorship.

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Trump also leads in most national polling over DeSantis, when other candidates are considered and in a hypothetical head-to-head contest.

Former U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley and entrepreneur Vivek Rasmussey have also announced presidential bids. Other candidates are expected.

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President Biden has not yet officially announced a re-election bid, although he has said he would eventually do so.

Fox News’ Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.

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