If there's one thing the Floridan Republican congressional delegation doesn't want to weigh in on, it's the escalating GOP primary between their two home-state honchos, Donald Trump and Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Just how fraught is the topic of who to back? Politico granted one Florida Republican anonymity so they could say this: “Do you think I want to talk about that? You think I’m crazy?”
So far, just two Florida House Republicans of the 20-member delegation have weighed in on behalf of a candidate, and both went with Trump: Reps. Matt Gaetz and Anna Paulina Luna.
Apparently, once one seeks a presidential pardon from someone, they’re inclined to stick with them moving forward.
Everyone else is ducking for cover lest they end up making the wrong bet. It betrays the special brand of spinelessness we have come to expect from congressional Republicans on all things Trump after suffering through four years of their "private" backroom conversations secretly expressing disgust.
When asked to pick, Rep. Neal Dunn responded, “Oh, wow. You really are trying to get me into a situation here." Then he copped to the real reason for his radio silence, “I don’t need to make myself a target for a year.”
In classic Trump-era form, Dunn said he had made up his mind, but he opted to keep his cards close to the vest rather than risk exposure.
But time is running short. Many members expect Trump will soon start putting on a full-court press for endorsements.
Rep. Gus Bilirakis, who is undecided between the two, told Politico, "I think I'll get a call soon. We will have a nice discussion."
Sounds as delightful as a check in with a mob boss.
On the other hand, the DeSantis push has been "non-existent" so far. DeSantis doesn’t exactly like to talk to people, by most accounts.
The state's two senators, Rick Scott and Marco Rubio, also sought to avoid making waves, though Scott admitted to having a rather frosty relationship with DeSantis.
“DeSantis doesn’t talk to me, so I don’t know about DeSantis," said Scott, who was governor immediately before DeSantis. "I talk to Trump. I wish him all the best of luck," added Scott, who has likely delighted Trump by becoming a perennial thorn in Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's side.
Rubio made the ridiculous claim that he had "spent zero time" thinking about the contest. With nuance like that, it’s hard to believe Rubio’s 2016 candidacy fizzled.
The Florida GOP annual retreat starting Sunday in Orlando should be lively.
You know about the DSCC and DCCC, but have you heard of DASS? You'll want to! We're talking with Kim Rogers, the executive director of the not-especially-well-known but crucially important Democratic Association of Secretaries of State on this edition of The Downballot.
Rogers explains how her organization helps recruit candidates, deploy resources, and win races for secretary of state across the country—and why these elections operate so differently from many others. She also tells us about what Democratic secretaries are doing to fight disinformation and expand voting rights, and the most bonkers thing she heard come out of the mouth of a 2022 election denier.