Fresh off a third well-received debate performance, Nikki Haley is unveiling dozens of endorsements in the pivotal early voting state of Iowa as she fights to distinguish herself as the top alternative to Donald Trump ahead of the Jan. 15 Republican caucuses.
According to the latest Des Moines Register/NBC News/Mediacom Iowa Poll, the former president leads the field with 43% of likely Republican caucusgoers naming him as their first choice for president.
Haley is tied in a distant second place with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis at 16%, though she is the only candidate showing substantial upward momentum in Iowa, where the state’s caucus will kick off the fight for the Republican presidential nomination. She gained 10 percentage points over her August Iowa Poll showing.
Among the 72 Iowans endorsing her are former political operatives such as David Oman, who served as chief of staff for former governors Robert Ray and Terry Branstad. Also endorsing are Doug Gross, a lawyer and former Branstad chief of staff, and Christine Hensley, who was the longest-serving member of the Des Moines City Council.
“Often, our best presidents have been governors,” Oman said in a statement. “I like to support governors — proven winners who lead, who assemble a great team, who manage, and get things done. We’ve had some good and former governors in this race. Now, only one also brings serious foreign policy experience at a critical time, with threats in both hemispheres.”
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Current state Reps. Jane Bloomingdale and Brian Lohse are endorsing Haley, along with former state Rep. Carmine Boal and former state Sen. Bob Brunkhorst. Former state senator and U.S. ambassador to Barbados Mary Kramer is also endorsing.
In addition, the list includes a number of Iowa business leaders, including Steve Lacy, the former CEO of Meredith; Don Lamberti, the founder of Casey’s General Stores; Mike Ralston, president of the Iowa Association of Business and Industry; Lynette Rasmussen, CEO of Rasmussen Group; and Bill Friedman, the former CEO of Younkers.
The endorsements come as the battle between Haley and DeSantis heats up in Iowa, and after DeSantis nabbed a coveted endorsement from Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds.
They also come as the field begins to narrow more dramatically. Former Vice President Mike Pence ended his campaign in October, and U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, who had been polling in fourth place, dropped out Nov. 12.
“As Nikki continues to command the debate stage and spread her message of a strong and proud America, the more Iowans rally to her side,” Hooff Cooksey, the campaign’s Iowa adviser, said in a statement. “Two months from the caucuses, Team Haley continues to grow day by day, and her momentum is stronger than ever.”
Haley’s campaign announced in October it would begin expanding its Iowa footprint by adding staff and opening a Clive office location. And on Nov. 13 it said it will book $10 million in TV, radio and digital advertising across Iowa and New Hampshire beginning in the first week of December in an effort to overtake DeSantis.
The DeSantis campaign has trained its ire on Haley as well.
“As Americans look behind the curtain, they will see she does not have the extensive record of conservative achievements that Ron DeSantis boasts,” DeSantis’ communications director, Andrew Romeo, said in a statement. “It’s clear there is no way Nikki Haley can beat Donald Trump, and every dollar spent on her candidacy is an in-kind (political contribution) to the Trump campaign.”
Brianne Pfannenstiel is the chief politics reporter for the Register. Reach her at email@example.com or 515-284-8244. Follow her on Twitter at @brianneDMR.
This article originally appeared on Des Moines Register: Nikki Haley unveils dozens of Iowa endorsers after GOP debate boost