Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a likely 2024 presidential contender, endorsed fellow Republican Paul LePage for Maine governor Thursday, calling him an effective leader who will focus on family values and stand firm against the Biden administration.

Election 2022 Florida

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis Gary McCullough/Associated Press, file

The endorsement was one of a dozen that DeSantis issued from his campaign Twitter account this week. He also endorsed Republican candidates in Arizona, Arkansas, Kansas, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

LePage “is an effective leader for the people of Maine,” DeSantis tweeted Thursday afternoon. “He will focus on family values and stand against the damaging effects of the Biden Regime. Support his reelection.”

Officials for the LePage campaign said they did not seek out the DeSantis endorsement. One campaign official said the only endorsement that matters a week before Election Day is that of Maine voters, but added they were happy to accept it.

Maine Democrats were happy to use the endorsement to try to undermine LePage’s standing with moderate undecided voters. LePage may campaign as a kinder, gentler candidate, someone who wouldn’t roll back Maine’s abortion law, but look at who he hangs out with, they said.

“Mainers have a simple message for Governor DeSantis – thanks, but no thanks,” said Drew Gattine, chair of the Maine Democratic Party. “The absolute last thing Maine people want is Ron DeSantis exporting his far right agenda to Maine in the form of former Florida resident Paul LePage.”


Few national political celebrities have appeared in Maine to campaign for either LePage or Mills. Both candidates are well known among voters, but they may also want to distance themselves from divisive party standard bearers as they compete for moderate undecided voters.

Former Gov. Paul LePage speaks during a gubernatorial debate against Gov. Janet Mills on Oct. 27, in Portland. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

DeSantis, a widespread opponent of masking and “woke” ideas, made headlines in September when he sent two planes of migrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard. In April, he signed a bill that prohibits abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy with no exceptions for rape or incest.

Former Gov. LePage moved to Florida in January 2019 at the end of his second term in office, blocked by state law from seeking a third consecutive term. He went in search of warm weather and low taxes, but returned home a year later. He announced his reelection campaign in September 2021.

LePage told WSKW Radio last year he’d met DeSantis a few times, but didn’t know him well. He praised how DeSantis handled Florida’s pandemic response, calling it the gold standard, and said it compared favorably to how Gov. Janet Mills had managed Maine’s response.

According to federal data, at least 1 out of every 261 Florida residents has died from COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, compared to Maine’s death rate of 1 out of 507. Florida’s vaccination rate – first and second doses, no booster – stands at 69 percent compared to Maine’s 82 percent.

LePage was among the Republican politicians, operatives and donors whom DeSantis hosted in Fort Lauderdale in July for what DeSantis described to Politico as an informal get-to-know-you session with people who shared his political priorities and supported his style of governing.

When LePage returned from Fort Lauderdale in July, he called DeSantis a friend, but told reporters he wouldn’t get involved in a potential presidential primary battle between DeSantis and Donald Trump, for whom LePage served as Maine election chairman.

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