Reynolds to endorse DeSantis tonight at Iowa rally

DES MOINES — Governor Kim Reynolds will endorse Republican presidential candidate Ron DeSantis this evening at a rally in Des Moines according to sources familiar with the governor’s plans.

Reynolds has appeared with the Florida Governor often in Iowa, starting in March during DeSantis’ first visit to the state. Early this year, Reynolds said she intended to remain neutral, so all candidates would feel welcome to campaign in Iowa, but after she hosted most of the candidates at the Iowa State Fair, Reynolds indicated she was considering an endorsement.

In late August, the chairman of the Iowa G-O-P told Radio Iowa Reynolds is likely the only Republican in Iowa whose endorsement could move the needle for a candidate. Reynolds is viewed favorably by a solid majority of Iowa Republicans according to polling and the recent Des Moines Register “Iowa Poll” shows DeSantis is in a battle for second place with former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley in Iowa.

On Sunday, former President Trump called Reynolds disloyal. The Trump campaign calls her appearance at tonight’s DeSantis rally the beginning of the Reynolds retirement tour.

DeSantis often contrasts how he and Reynolds easily won reelection with Trump’s 2020 loss.  “This nomination is not something you’re entitled to. You have to earn it,” DeSantis said during an interview Friday night. “…You have places like Iowa under your governor and Florida where we’ve shown how Republicans can win.”

During DeSantis’ book tour in March, the two governors were on stage together and touted their approaches to the pandemic and their decisions to re-open schools in Iowa and Florida.  “They called Kim and I a lot of names for doing that,” DeSantis said. Reynolds interjected, drawing laughter and cheers from the crowd: “I think you were ‘DeathSantis.’ Is that right? ‘COVID Kim’ and ‘DeathSantis.’ Who was right, by the way?”

At a fundraiser for Congressman Randy Feenstra this spring, DeSantis made a similar argument. “Governing is not about entertaining. Governing is not about building a brand or talking on social media and virtue signaling. It’s ultimately about winning and about producing results and that’s what you’ve done in Iowa and that’s what we’ve done in Florida,”  DeSantis said, to applause. 

Since 1980, just one other governor has endorsed a presidential candidate before the Iowa Caucuses. Terry Branstad endorsed Bob Dole and campaigned for the Kansas Senator before the 1996 Iowa Caucuses. Senator Chuck Grassley endorsed Dole before the Caucuses in 1988 and 1996, but has not publicly endorsed a candidate since then.