Gov. Kim Reynolds of Iowa is expected to endorse Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida in the Republican presidential primary on Monday, throwing her significant clout in the state behind him as he tries to make up ground against former President Donald J. Trump before the state’s caucuses in January.
The endorsement is set to take place as Mr. DeSantis appears in the state, according to three people familiar with the plans.
The endorsement was first reported by The Des Moines Register and NBC News.
Ms. Reynolds is very popular with Republicans in her state, and she is one of the few governors with whom Mr. DeSantis has had a true bond in recent years. The two governors have been aligned on matters related to policy on Covid and abortion, among other things. Her interest in his candidacy has been clear for months, including to 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 DeSantis campaign’s stumbles. But she is enraged with Mr. Trump, who has twice attacked her personally, according to those people.
Mr. Trump’s team has been girding for a potential endorsement by her of Mr. DeSantis for months.
Mr. Trump grew frustrated earlier this year by Ms. Reynolds’s public appearances with Mr. DeSantis and said at one point, “I hate to say it, without me, you know, she was not going to win, you know that, right?” Later, he lashed out again, saying he didn’t invite her to his events.
The endorsement comes ahead of the third presidential debate on Wednesday in Miami, when Mr. DeSantis will try to both close ground on Mr. Trump and separate himself from Nikki Haley, the former governor of South Carolina and former United Nations ambassador who was 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 spokesman for Ms. Reynolds did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
Jason Miller, an adviser to Mr. Trump, mocked the endorsement in an email statement with the subject line “Kim Reynolds to Endorse a Candidate Who Will Never Be President.” “Rob DeSanctimonious won’t get anything more than the Carly Fiorina bounce,” he said, referring to one of Mr. Trump’s challengers in 2016.
Ms. Reynolds is deeply protective of her state, and some close to her believed she would be unlikely to endorse Mr. DeSantis unless his campaign showed signs of progress. The decision to endorse would appear to be a sign that Ms. Reynolds thinks she can make a meaningful difference in a contest that polling shows Mr. Trump still leads by a large margin. Historically, the Iowa caucuses have been volatile affairs with significant movement as the voting nears.