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DeSantis Takes His Campaign to Utah – Where Trump Has Struggled

Trump’s history and style have conflicted with Utah’s dominant religious culture. More than half the state’s residents belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH — Today, presidential candidate Ron DeSantis will visit Utah to pick up new endorsements from state leaders in the Beehive State, bringing his nationwide total of endorsements from state leaders to 270.

DeSantis will appear at the Utah state capitol today with close to a dozen state lawmakers who will officially back him in his bid for the White House.


Republican Governor Spencer Cox, the head of the National Governors Association, will meet with DeSantis on Friday afternoon. Cox has frequently said he’d like to see a governor in the White House in 2024.

Jennifer Napier Pearce, spokesperson for the Utah governor, did not reveal whether Cox would endorse DeSantis but released a statement to AP:

“As chairman of the National Governors Association, Governor Cox has been vocal about supporting candidates who are Republican governors – including Gov. DeSantis – because governors are executives who get things done. He looks forward to welcoming Gov. DeSantis to Utah.”


Moving his campaign to the West in a state where former President Trump has struggled is a strategic move by the DeSantis campaign as Trump navigates his criminal case in West Palm Beach and a looming indictment in a Justice Department investigation into his role on January 6.

“The more people see Governor DeSantis and hear his forward-thinking plan for our nation’s comeback, the more inspired they become to vote for him for president,” campaign spokesperson Andrew Romeo said.

If DeSantis can garner support in a densely Republican state like Utah, it could bolster his campaign at a time when Trump is dominating the headlines. Utah Senate President Stuart Adams – one of the few Republicans to endorse Trump early in 2016 – is now publicly backing DeSantis.

“They’re both great candidates. But I believe Governor DeSantis deserves a shot. I wouldn’t say anything bad about President Trump,” Adams said in an interview with Deseret News.


Trump’s history and style have conflicted with Utah’s dominant religious culture. More than half the state’s residents belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – a religion with a great emphasis on decorum.

Trump, known for his brash personality, finished third in the state’s 2016 Republican presidential caucuses behind Texas Senator Ted Cruz and Ohio Governor John Kasich.

Utah’s Republican supermajority in the legislature has passed laws banning gender mutilation of children and now requires school boards to hold committees to decide whether to remove certain books from school libraries – issues DeSantis has tackled in Florida.

Adams said he was impressed with how DeSantis guided Florida during the pandemic and believes that Florida and Utah share similar values.

“I believe as people get to know Governor DeSantis, he’d have great support in Utah,” Adams said. “Utah has great family values. Governor DeSantis has great family values.”

Utah will hold its primary contest on Super Tuesday, which falls on March 5, 2024. Unlike 2016, when voters participated in caucuses and had to wait in long lines, the state now holds a primary election that will award all 40 of Utah’s delegates to the chosen candidate.