By Leo Wolfson, State Government and Politics Reporter
U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis has signaled a departure from former President Donald Trump, saying she views Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis as the leader of the Republican Party.
When asked if she’d endorse Trump in a new presidential campaign, Lummis told Politico she no longer views the former president as the head honcho of the GOP.
“I don’t think that’s the right question,” she said. “I think the question is: Who is the current leader of the Republican Party?”
“Oh, I know who it is. It’s Ron DeSantis,” Lummis said, answering her own question.
“I’m saying currently, Ron DeSantis is the leader of the Republican Party, whether he wants to be or not,” she said.
A spokesperson for Lummis confirmed to Cowboy State Daily that Lummis’ statements were correct.
The Beginning of ’24
DeSantis has emerged as a rival for Trump, most recently demolishing his Democratic opponent by 20 points in his reelection bid. Many have opined that DeSantis should be the Republican nominee for president in 2024.
Trump recently referred to DeSantis as “Ron De-Sanctimonious” and criticized the governor for not showing gratitude for his assistance in the past.
DeSantis is seen by many as a less controversial figure than Trump. He has a much softer stance on the legitimacy of the 2020 election and supports a 15-week ban on abortion. He is staunchly conservative on other issues.
DeSantis signed Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law, which prevents teachers from talking about LGBTQ+ issues or people; a bill banning biological men from participating in women’s sports; and was a proponent of the Stop Woke Act, which prohibits businesses from requiring certain employee trainings on racial diversity.
He also scoffed at COVID-19 shutdowns and vaccine mandates, at times making public appearances alongside anti-vaxxers.
Polls, Polls, Polls
Still, DeSantis will have some work to do to prove he has a chance at beating Trump. Polls taken before the midterms showed him trailing Trump.
However, a poll released Monday by Club For Growth showed DeSantis beating Trump by double digits in both Iowa and New Hampshire.
It’s a significant departure for Lummis, who voted against certifying the Pennsylvania results of the 2020 election and voted to acquit Trump during his second impeachment trial following the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.
She was endorsed by Trump in her 2020 campaign, even after saying she would be “holding her nose” while voting for him in 2016. This was a similar sentiment to what was said by Harriet Hageman at the time, who was endorsed by Trump in her recent winning bid for Wyoming’s lone seat in the House of Representatives.
Trump won Wyoming by a larger margin of victory than any other state in 2020.
Lummis’ preference for DeSantis comes at a time where many in the party are signaling a desire to move on from Trump after last week’s disappointing midterm election results.
Rampant inflation and high gas prices made it seem that a “red wave” was inevitable in the election, but the Republicans failed to retake the U.S. Senate and are likely to gain a small majority in the House, but not the blowout results many had expected.