(Bloomberg) -- Former Maryland Governor Larry Hogan urged Republicans to support presidential candidate Nikki Haley, curbing speculation that he could run on a third-party ticket.
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“It’s time for the party to get behind Nikki Haley,” Hogan said Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union, adding that Haley has “the strongest chance for us to put forth our best possible candidate for November.”
The comments toed the line of a full-fledged endorsement, putting political weight behind Haley on the eve of the Iowa caucus. The latest Iowa poll has Haley narrowly eclipsing Florida Governor Ron DeSantis as a distant second to former president Donald Trump.
Read More: Trump Leads Haley With 48% in Iowa Poll Days Before Caucus
The same poll found that only 23% of Haley voters in Iowa said they would support Trump if he is the Republican candidate in November, with 43% supporting Biden instead. The numbers confirm Haley’s mantle as the preferred candidate among anti-Trump Republicans and right-leaning independents, especially after former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie dropped out of the race last week.
Only Republicans can participate in the Iowa caucuses, but any registered voter in Iowa can become a member of the party as late as caucus night. Independent voters will be a bigger factor in New Hampshire, which has a tradition of crossover voting and where Haley trails Trump by just 14 percentage points in the RealClearPolitics polling average.
But there’s also the possibility that Trump could face a challenge in November from a former Republican running from outside the party.
Hogan said in an October interview with Bloomberg News that he wasn’t shutting the door on such a bid, so his decision last week to step down from No Labels, a centrist advocacy group, fueled buzz around the possibility of a White House run. No Labels has been preparing to back a third-party bid and has met the requirements to join the ballot in at least 10 states.
Yet Hogan told on CNN on Sunday that he made the decision not to run last spring.
“I’m convinced that the momentum is with Nikki Haley, that she has the potential of moving into second place, although it could be a distant second place, which gives her momentum heading into New Hampshire where she’s only seven points down,” Hogan said.
Monday’s caucuses in Iowa mark the start of the 2024 presidential primary season. Candidates will then move on to the New Hampshire primary on Jan. 23.
“If she could potentially come in second place in Iowa, move on to New Hampshire, it’s possible she could win, which would put her in a much better position when she moves into her home state of South Carolina,” Hogan said.
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