NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE — As the summer heats up and the Republican primary intensifies, Ron DeSantis is gearing up to mingle with voters in Tennessee and Alabama – two states set to hold primary elections on Super Tuesday in March 2024.
DeSantis will deliver a keynote address to over 1,500 Republicans on Saturday in Nashville at the Tennessee Republican Party’s annual fundraising dinner at Music City Center.
But while most of Tennessee’s Republican lawmakers have endorsed former President Trump, DeSantis says his political team has worked hard to build the type of organization that can win the primary.
“I think they have tried to create a narrative that somehow the race is over,” DeSantis said, referring to mainstream media reports. “This is going to be a state-by-state contest.”
Results on Super Tuesday – when the largest number of delegates are up for grabs – can make or break a campaign. Close to 15 primaries will be held on March 5, 2024 from Maine to California and at this point, only DeSantis and former President Donald Trump have the resources to launch a broader campaign in those states.
Scott Golden, chairman of the Tennessee GOP, told AP News that while “everybody’s focused on Iowa and New Hampshire,” early voting in Tennessee begins in mid-February.
In Alabama, Republican Party Chairman John Wahl says that while the people of Alabama have a special relationship with Donald Trump, candidates like DeSantis still seek support among the state’s conservative voters who are “the heartbeat of the Republican Party.”
“It’s states like Alabama that are going to be where [Trump] hopes to make a lot of ground,” Wahl told AP. “And if other candidates are going to beat him, they have to compete with him in those states.”
BOOTS ON THE GROUND
DeSantis has been working to nail down key endorsements in Super Tuesday states. One of his most prominent endorsements was from Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt, who appeared at a rally in Tulsa last month.
While door-knocking is already underway in the four early states, Never Back Down, the super PAC supporting DeSantis, plans to invest $100 million on ground operations targeting the first 18 states.
The PAC says volunteers will begin speaking to residents in Super Tuesday states about the governor’s personal story – including his blue-collar upbringing, military service, and legislative accomplishments – later this summer.
“They know the name, but they don’t necessarily know the man,” Never Back Down spokeswoman Erin Perrine said. “We’ve seen that where we show people the man that we take away Trump supporters and that they come over to the DeSantis camp.”