A political action committee that’s backing Ron DeSantis released a list Tuesday of more than 50 lawmakers in New Hampshire endorsing the Florida governor’s likely GOP presidential bid — but not all of them are backing DeSantis exclusively.
One state representative told the Globe that she is endorsing both DeSantis and his top rival, former president Donald Trump, ahead of the state’s first-in-the-nation 2024 primary.
“I’m backing both right now,” said Juliet Harvey-Bolia of Tilton. “I approve of them both.”
Harvey-Bolia said some details about the presidential endorsement process remain unclear to her. This is her first time holding office during a presidential campaign, so there’s a learning curve, she said. But the bottom line is that she continues to stand by her earlier endorsement of Trump and her newly announced endorsement of DeSantis.
“I haven’t switched horses. I’m just excited about both of them,” she said.
New Hampshire House Majority Leader Jason Osborne of Auburn, who has endorsed DeSantis, said people don’t typically double up on their endorsements, though most people in New Hampshire seem to be interested in more than one candidate right now.
“They just usually don’t sign endorsement forms until they settle on one,” he said.
Harvey-Bolia isn’t the only state representative who was named both on Tuesday’s list from the DeSantis-supporting Never Back Down PAC and also on a list of endorsements released in April by the Trump campaign. Three other state representatives appeared on both lists.
Representative Brian Cole of Manchester said he appeared on both lists because he switched his endorsement from Trump to DeSantis after assessing which one appears to have higher odds of success. It wasn’t an easy decision, he said.
“I like them both,” he said, noting that he has heard from both Trump and DeSantis during their recent events in the Granite State.
The other two state representatives whose names appeared on both lists, Lisa Smart of Meredith and Debra DeSimone of Atkinson, did not respond to the Globe’s request for comment.
In a statement released by the Trump campaign, Smart said she was proud to endorse Trump last month and her support for him has not changed.
“I’m dismayed by the games being played by Never Back Down and I will NOT be participating in any activities with Ron DeSantis,” Smart said in the statement.
The statement did not specify whether Smart had ever agreed to endorse DeSantis, and spokespeople for the Trump campaign did not respond to follow-up questions.
A spokesperson for Never Back Down said Smart and the other New Hampshire state lawmakers on the PAC’s endorsement list signed a form committing to endorse DeSantis in the 2024 presidential contest. Smart’s form is dated May 9.
There were 51 state representatives on the Trump endorsement list and 51 on the DeSantis list. Since four lawmakers appeared on both lists, the combined total of 98 state representatives constitute about half of the 200-member GOP caucus in the 400-member New Hampshire House of Representatives.
The existence of the four overlapping endorsements was reported earlier by NBC News.
With roughly eight months to go before New Hampshire’s presidential primary, public opinion polling suggests Trump is hanging onto his status as the clear frontrunner in this contest, with DeSantis’ potential candidacy consistently ranking second.
In a statement, Never Back Down spokesperson Erin Perrine said New Hampshire leaders know that DeSantis’ track record “should serve as a blueprint for our nation.” They support him because he can defeat president Biden in 2024 “and put our country back on track,” she said.
This story has been updated to include an additional statement from Representative Lisa Smart.