Trump vs DeSantis rivalry shifts to Utah as GOP rushes to prop up Mike Lee’s Senate bid


Days before the polls close in the 2022 midterm elections, actions by Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis are already being seen through the prism of the expected 2024 GOP presidential nomination contest.

DeSantis is starring in a new ad for GOP Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, who is facing an uncharacteristically tough re-election in deep-red Utah as he’s being challenged by independent Evan McMullin, who won Lee’s vote for president in 2016.

The ad, paid for by the far-right Club for Growth, is the first out-of-state ad featuring DeSantis backing a fellow Republican, according to Breitbart News.

Trump then re-endorsed Lee in a statement posted to his Truth Social website.

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“The great people of Utah have a gem in Mike Lee,” Trump argued.

“He will never let you down, whereas his opponent, McMuffin (sic), will only let you down. Mike has long had my complete and total endorsement, and even more strongly now!” Trump said, without specifying why his endorsement was now even more than total.

Business Insider reported, “Trump appears to have made the statement as an act of one-upmanship against DeSantis, who could challenge him for the 2024 Republican nomination for president. But Trump also complained to the Washington Post in May about Club for Growth after it backed a different GOP challenger in the Pennsylvania primary than the Trump-endorsed Mehmet Oz.”

The report noted the Club for Growth Action fund and the Crypto Freedom PAC have spent more than $8 million trying to prop up Lee.

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“Last week, when DeSantis recorded a robocall for Colorado Senate candidate Joe O’Dea, Trump on Truth Social declared it ‘a big mistake.’ O’Dea, who is running to unseat Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet, has vowed to “actively” campaign against Trump should he choose to run for president again,” Business Insider reported. “Trump also plans to campaign with Republican Sen. Marco Rubio on Sunday, while DeSantis is running his own counter-programming of events throughout Florida over the weekend.”

The rivalry between the two has garnered international attention.

“A lot has changed since the 2018 midterm elections when Donald Trump came out swinging for Ron DeSantis, whose chances of winning the Republican primary for governor without the then-president’s endorsement were next to none,” the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported Thursday morning local time. “DeSantis is making waves outside of Florida, too, most notably by upstaging another Republican governor, Texas’s Greg Abbott, on immigration policy.”

DeSantis is being challenged by Democratic Party nominee Charlie Crist.

“The governor could be waiting to see if Donald Trump announces his candidacy or becomes too much of a political liability if he is indicted by the Department of Justice over the events of January 6 or the Mar-a-Lago document saga,” the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported. “Polls suggest DeSantis is, by far, the most popular choice among Republicans to run after the former president, with one recent survey suggesting he could be edging ahead.”

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