U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland plans to endorse Florida Sen. Marco Rubio for president on Thursday, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution has learned.
Even though the six-term Coweta County Republican plans to retire from Congress at the end of the year, Westmoreland’s political blessing still carries weight ahead of the March 1 primaries. The congressman is heavily involved in state politics, acting as something of a mentor to the young Republican House delegation, and is considering a run for governor in 2018.
“Marco’s experience on the Senate Intelligence Committee and his strong stance on foreign policy make him the most qualified candidate to lead our nation. He understands the threats our country faces every day, and how to protect our nation, citizens and interests abroad,” Westmoreland says in a statement that will be released Thursday morning, according to a Rubio campaign aide.
Rubio is collecting a growing number of endorsements from Georgia politicians and had a stronger than expected showing in the Iowa caucuses Monday that is expected to propel his candidacy in the upcoming stream of nominating contests.
Among Rubio’s core Georgia supporters are U.S. Rep. Austin Scott, R-Tifton, as well as state Reps. Geoff Duncan, Michael Caldwell, Chuck Efstration, Buzz Brockway, Trey Kelley and Bert Reeves.
Rubio is pitching himself as the candidate that establishment-oriented Republicans can rally around as a more electable alternative to Trump and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, although polls in New Hampshire show the Florida senator locked in a tough fight with Ohio Gov. John Kasich and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.
Georgia’s two senators so far have held back from endorsing a candidate, which is not unusual at this point in the campaign given the still-crowded field. Freshman Sen. David Perdue, however, did make a friendly video introducing Trump during the real estate mogul's first campaign appearance in metro Atlanta last fall.