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Eyes on 2024: It’s beginning to look a lot like a presidential primary

Eyes on 2024: It’s beginning to look a lot like a presidential primary

By Ben Kamisar and Bridget Bowman

What’s a presidential nominating race without a congressional endorsement fight and some attempts to work the refs?

Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis may not be a declared candidate just yet, but his expected bid grabbed headlines Wednesday thanks to two developments. 

First: He got his first member of Congress calling on him to jump into the race — Texas Republican Rep. Chip Roy, a Tea Party Republican with conservative chops, but one who didn’t join the majority of his conference to vote against certifying the 2020 election (even though he texted with then-chief of staff Mark Meadows in the days after the election about the campaign’s challenges).  

And second: As NBC News’ Matt Dixon scooped, former President Donald Trump’s super PAC filed an ethics complaint against DeSantis’ “shadow presidential campaign.” 

The big takeaway from that complaint isn’t necessarily the substance; Trump, after all, faced a slew of ethics complaints ahead of his announcement. And it’s not like DeSantis is seeing a groundswell of support from elected Republicans — Trump has the backing of almost two-dozen members of the House and five senators, among others. 

But the Roy endorsement marks just the second sitting member to cross the line against Trump (South Carolina Rep. Ralph Norman is backing former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley), and the first for the man that polls show is Trump’s top rival. 

And the ethics complaint shows that Trump’s allies are elevating their fight against DeSantis, looking to put whatever pressure on their rival that they can. 

In other campaign news: 

Veepstakes: Trump has a long way to go before becoming the GOP presidential nominee, but the Associated Press reports that there is already a “shadow contest” to be his running mate, and that Trump is interested in picking a woman. The AP lists Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Elise Stefanik of New York, as well as Arizona Republican Kari Lake, Tennessee Sen. Marsha Blackburn, and Govs. Kim Reynolds of Iowa and Kristi Noem of South Dakota as potential contenders.

There’s a theme: The Washington Post unpacks the “dark undertones and apocalyptic rhetoric” that has been dominating the GOP presidential primary field so far. 

Not a crime? One of Trump’s lawyers said Tuesday during an interview on MSNBC that Trump followed the advice of his counsel in signing off on a hush money payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels, arguing “that is not a crime.”  

Sitting out: Pennsylvania Republican Kathy Barnette, who made a late surge in last year’s primary, told Politico she won’t run for Senate next year. 

Bringing New Jersey to New Hampshire: Fox News reports that former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is heading to New Hampshire for a town hall at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at the end of the month.  

Not so zen: Self-help author and spiritual adviser Marianne Williamson, who recently launched another presidential campaign, was “verbally and emotionally abusive” to her campaign staff in 2020, Politico reports, citing interviews with 12 former campaign staffers. Williamson denied the allegations.

Ben Kamisar

Ben Kamisar is a deputy political editor in NBC’s Political Unit. 

Bridget Bowman

Bridget Bowman is a deputy editor for NBC’s Political Unit. 

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