Ron DeSantis gets an Iowa lifeline with governor Kim Reynolds endorsement

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds is set to endorse her Florida counterpart Ron DeSantis in the 2024 Republican presidential primary in a rare rebuke of former President Donald Trump from a senior member of the GOP.

Individuals close to both Ms Reynolds and Mr DeSantis told NBC News that the leader of the Hawkeye State will make her endorsement at a Monday rally in Des Moines, boosting a struggling campaign.

As former South Carolina Governor and Trump UN Ambassador Nikki Haley is rising in the field, many observers see the Iowa caucuses as do-or-die for the DeSantis campaign.

Mr DeSantis has put most of his focus on the first primary contest on 15 January next year but still remains 27 per cent behind Mr Trump in an Iowa poll conducted by NBC News, Mediacom, and the Des Moines Register. Mr DeSantis, who was seen as Mr Trump’s top rival in the early stages of the race, is tied for second place with Ms Haley.

Ms Reynolds is popular in her home state with 81 per cent seeing her in a favourable light – a better rating than any of the candidates running for president.

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds (L) hosts Florida Governor Ron DeSantis during one of her
Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds (L) hosts Florida Governor Ron DeSantis during one of her "Fair-Side Chats" at the Iowa State Fair on August 12, 2023 in Des Moines, Iowa (Getty Images)

The DeSantis campaign moved a third of its staff to Iowa from the Florida capital Tallahassee last month and put a large part of its available funds on a $2m ad buy in the state, where the governor has so far visited 87 of its 99 counties.

Ms Reynolds is backtracking after telling the Register in February that she wouldn’t back any single candidate.

“I may change my mind down the road,” she told Fox News in August during the state fair.

The Trump campaign blasted Ms Reynolds for going back on her initial commitment to not issue an endorsement, adding that her backing Mr DeSantis “will not make any difference in this race,” pointing to polls showing few voters switch allegiances based on endorsement.