Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds is expected to endorse Florida Gov. Ron DeSandis in Monday’s Republican presidential primary, throwing her significant influence in the state behind him as he tries to make up ground against former President Donald J. Trump before the state. meetings in January.
The approval is set to come as Mr. DeSantis makes appearances in the state, according to three people familiar with the plans.
Ms. Reynolds is very popular among Republicans in her state and is one of the few governors with whom Mr. DeSantis has had a real bond in recent years. The two governors have aligned on issues related to Covid and abortion policy, among other things. Her interest in his candidacy has been clear for months, including from Mr. Trump, who criticized her for not falling in line behind him.
People who have spoken with Ms. Reynolds say she has had some frustrations with the stumbles of the DeSantis campaign. But she is furious with Mr. Trump, who has twice attacked her personally, according to these people.
Mr. Trump’s team has been soliciting a possible endorsement of Mr. DeSantis for months.
Mr. Trump was frustrated earlier this year by Ms. Reynolds’ public appearances with Mr. de Sandys, saying at one point: “I hate to say it, without me, you know, he wouldn’t have won, you know, right? Later, he lashed out again, saying he didn’t invite her to his events.
The endorsement comes ahead of Wednesday’s third presidential debate in Miami, when Mr. DeSantis will try to close ground with Mr. Trump and distance himself from Nikki Haley, the former South Carolina governor and former ambassador to United Nations tied with him in Iowa in the latest Des Moines Register/NBC News poll in the state.
The DeSantis campaign declined to comment, and a representative for Ms. Reynolds did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
Jason Miller, an adviser to Mr. Trump, scoffed at the endorsement in an emailed statement with the subject line, “Kim Reynolds to endorse candidate who will never be president.” “Rob DeSanctimonious is not going to get anything more than Carly Fiorina’s bounce,” he said, referring to one of Mr. Trump’s 2016 challengers.
Ms. Reynolds is deeply protective of her state, and some in her circle believed she would be unlikely to support Mr. DeSantis unless his campaign showed signs of progress. The decision to endorse appears to be a sign that Ms. Reynolds believes she can make a meaningful difference in a contest that polls show Mr. Trump still leading by a wide margin. Historically, Iowa caucuses have been volatile affairs with significant movement as the vote approaches.